Thursday, November 09, 2006

The 21 Storylines Even The Most Cynical Media Will Love (part one)

By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP - International Business Speaker

Getting media coverage is becoming more and more challenging.

Journalists, reporters and editors are being bombarded with more and more information.

In the past a reporter got story ideas, contacts and information from traditional community sources. Meeting with the local policeman, having lunch with business leaders or having a beverage with the local mayor.

These days the media are time poor and never have time to get out of the office to meet real people. They increasingly rely on prepared press releases.

So how can you cut through this and in particular the "so what who cares" line?

Here are the first seven of what I call The 21 Storylines Even The Most Cynical Media Will Love:

1. First of a kind

How can your business, product or achievement be in the first of its kind category? People who fit this mould include Tiger Woods, first Asian-black American to win a major golf title or Condoleezza Rice, first black female to became US Secretary of State on January 26, 2005

2. Talent wins out

This is the classic "the cream always rises to the top" category. Jennifer Lopez is a good global example. If you are Australian who can forget swimmer Kieren Perkins and his gold medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games after just qualifying for the final of the mens 1500 metres.

3. Success/adversity/success

All media, including block busting Hollywood movies love this narrative.

Some classics include Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, and Australia's own billionaire businessman Kerry Stokes. A real rags to riches story who was an orphan and his first job was selling TV antennas.

4. The fatal flaw

Bill Clinton & sex is a classic. So is Mel Gibson and alcohol. The media love this because it exposes the human frailty in us all. Probably best avoided.

5. Restrained from greatness

Can anyone remember who the fifth Beatle or the fifth Wiggle was? These people never quite made it and the media love the trivia of the story and the irony.

By the way keyboardist Billy Preston was often called the fifth Beatle.

"After the Wiggles were named Australia's richest entertainers, with $45 million in earnings last year, the curious case of Sydney's "fifth Wiggle" seemed reminiscent of the misfortunes of Pete Best, the "fifth Beatle" who famously departed the Beatles before they became the biggest band in the world," is a great quote.

This is how the media recently reported on former Wiggle, Phillip Wilcher.

"He left the Wiggles before they hit the big time, but now Phillip Wilcher wants to get rid of the tag "Fifth Wiggle" for good.

The classical musician, who lives in Sydney, is selling off personal memorabilia from his early days with the Wiggles - bitterly claiming he wouldn't want to be part of the band anyway, despite their millions."

6. A great rivalry

The media love conflict. It can be people, sporting teams or even products. The battle between Coke & Pepsi for example.

7. Mum or Dad's footsteps

George W. Bush in the US is a great current example. So is young media baron, James Packer in Australia. Is it genetic memory, talent or nepotism?

If you frame your message within these storylines you are more likely to engage with the media.

The next seven will be in the next edition.

Want more help? Book here for the media skills seminar in Perth on Tuesday November 28th


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Murrell,

I've just seen my name mentioned in your pages.

I'm curious about what you mean when you write "these people never quite made it".

Success means different things to different people. Happiness - or rather a feeling of being content - is perhaps the greatest success of all. As a classical composer and one who constantly strives through study, not only of other people's creativity, but moreso my own,I have been rewarded over and over again by the more subtle wonders of this world and what magic can come from taking that journey within oneself - a journey of perhaps the greater terrain in human existence. I would have been fooling myself if I thought for a moment that monetary riches would be my reward for the type of music I write. The reward I was seeking was to "know thyself". I would have been untrue to myself and my art as a composer and the personal belief that music is a manifestation of human spirit had I stayed a member of The Wiggles. The "bitterness" leveled at me by the "journalists" who wrote about me (just weeks following the death of my quietly courageous mother whose own medical history was long and debilitating and any one of her illnesses would have been enough - and yes, the journalists knew I was grieving) was really of their concotion. I think in their jargon it's called a "spin". And what's that often quoted quip about journalists - they never let truth get in the way of a good story! I'm am not bitter - although I will call a spade a spade and if that is perceived as being bitter, I will put to anyone that that bitterness is not with me!

I think this is the point of your paragraphs and pages here and that's a healthy undertaking, I'm sure, that you can't always believe what you read, or moreso the way in which it is written.

Here's a thought : every time I seek to better myself as a human being and a composer (the only musician I'm in compettion with is myself!) and I reach that higher rung on the ladder of my own personal ideals, I have made it. In the broader scheme of later things, and thinking back to your thoughts about those "who never quite made it" - one never really does, fully. Each piece of music I write is really the first piece of music - way leads on to way, and each "making it" impels me to "make it" further - it's all a progression. Forgive me if this is becoming a bit convoluted. I think the feeling I'm trying to get across here is that all things are borne of
one another - if I write a piece of music that even comes close to the desired effect I hoped to create, then I've made it. But then it's time to move on to the next work - to "make it" again.I would go so far as to say that failure can be a success - depending on what you take and learn from it. I can learn more about the structure of a piece of music - how it came into being - through a bad performance as much I can through a perfect performance - and perfection has it's flaws. The quest for perfection in itself could be that fatal flaw which prohibits/restrains greatness.

These thoughts come to respectfully in the spirit of goodwill.

Best wishes with your venture and success to you!


Anonymous said...

The question of greatness beckons a further journey down another avenue - perhaps the road less travelled - with snippets of thoughts from my previous post as companions. I hope you don't mind.

Success can mean many things and the concept of greatness is as equally diverse.

History recounts the tale of the Athenian philosopher Diogenes, who with nothing but the coarse clothing on his back, sat impoversihed in the town's square drinking water from out his tin cup but to observe another even less fortunate than he drink water from out nothing but his cupped hands. Diogenes threw away his cup. History also records that Alexander the Great, the King of Macedonia and conqueror of the Eastern world who vastly extended the influence of Greek civilization once remarked : "If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes!"

In our own time, when asked what makes a singer great, Tony Bennett replied : "It's what they leave out!"

Less can be more. The French call this "depouillement" : to strip away to only what is essential - in short, to sum up.

The synonyms for success are as wide reaching as Alexander's wish : accomplishment, achievement, attainment, control, fame, fortune, progress, prosperity and perhaps more importantly, realization.

If you are said to be successful, you are either famed, favoured, fortunate, happy, lucky, propserous, or in Alexander's case, triumphant.

Greatness, like success or truth or beauty (the latter two concepts belong together, truth being of wisdom and beauty for the susceptible heart) is really in the eye of the beholder, where anything can only be as great as its perception.

Greatness can be something transcendent or strong, or it can be just the gentlest of thoughts comprehended.

The Greek poet, Pindar, who expressed so adequately moral and religious reflections to proclaim the soul's immortality and future judgement once said : "Unsung, the noblest deed will die." By that, Greatness appears as vast as time itself, or it can be something achieved in an instant as sometimes can happen when creativity is caught on the wing. It is a matter of preference : the wondrous art works found in the cavernous dwellings of prehistoric man have found their exact and satellite place in the expanse of present day culture alongside the more developed canvases of a Leonardo, Monet or Gauguin. Nature's own birdsong is just as enchanting, if not moreso, than a sonata played on a violin.

As a composer and one who believes music to be a manifestation of human spirit, in my day to day way leads on to way type world, forever edging that little bit closer towards the gift of self-realization which for me is the sole/soul reason for doing anything, I have been blessed over and over. So much so that I would not want to be anyone but me.

I have achieved every goal I set myself. I have learnt through every piece of music I have written that if you aim for the moon and miss you will land on a star! The very meaning of life is to seek life's meaning.

"Unsung, the noblest deed will die." Where once I would have named any great and successful artist from the many genres of self expression colouring the world today as my mentor, inspiration and guiding light, there have been none more greater, successful or inspiring than my most extraordinary mother, Naomi Joy Wilcher, who after quietly and courageously battling more than anyone's fare share of illnesses (any one of her illnesses would have been enough!) left her "last pure earthly mansion" a little over a year ago. Her medical history was long : she'd had part of her thyroid removed, undergone a hysterectomy, lost both kidneys to cancer, Parkinson's Disease, osteoporosis, and finally multiple tumours in her liver and lungs. Not once did I hear her complain - nor did she ever put herself before others, even in her most fragile moments. Only the gentle are ever strong.

In 2003, the well-crafted Sydney- based journalist and very real writer, Steve Dow, wrote what I consider to be a quality-piece article about my association with the children's entertainment group The Wiggles. The article titled "A Life Less Wiggly" appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on February 24 of that year. In it, he generously referred to me as a "wunderkind" at age 14 and later refers to me as a "shy, sensitive and self-deprecating composer who views his career sunny-side up." "Don't expect bitter words from him." he wrote.

As my mother's son, how could I be anything but shy, sensitive and self-deprecating! Her courage in the face of every cruel illness and her undramatic acceptance of each prognosis, no matter how extreme and hopeless, forbade me to be bitter about anything in life. Her life was a noble deed about which I now sing and a life which even forbade me to feel failure in anything. Her life has taught me to mobilize against any dismantling thought or action an assemblage of spiritually sound counter-weights.

The articles which appeared from the lesser penmanship of manistream journalists in 2005, during the immediate weeks following my mother's death when my grief known to those journalists was crippling enough, really says more of those journalists virtues and agendas than they do mine. Those journalists interpretations and tailorings of my thoughts and words were then divided up and scattered abroad to other colleagues of their ilk and the juggernaut rolled on but not quite over me. I have never lost sight of the bigger picture. It has been said of most journalists they never let truth get in the way of a good story! How true....

I have always been impelled towards a greater wakefulness of the world around me. I know as my mother knew well that if you talk to the world it invariably talks back. I feed the doves that come to our yard every morning in honour of her. It's how I start my day. Once in the exact spot where I had left them their oats, they left me a nest. There was no tree nearby from which the nest could have fallen. That's greatness! I see my mother now in the sudden uplift of flight as the doves take wing from their early morning feed, and in the thousand winking eyes of a star-swept sky at night. I have grown to believe there can be no ceasing to be and that one's potential is greater than one's ability - something you'll come to realize if you hold on to your dreams and live the life you imagine.

My guess is for that pauper Diogenes once observed drinking from out his cupped hands, the water was never so sweet.

Phillip Wilcher

Thomas Murrell said...

Phillip, I appreciate your comments. They provide a great insight into your talent and motivation. Thank you for sharing. Cheers Tom

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