PR Fish Bowl

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December 2, 2016

PR’s Feel-Good Stories Of The Season

feelgoodprAnyone in public relations would agree that the news stories of 2016 have been crazy. Many were vicious (think politics) many were untrue (again, think politics) and some were hopeful and encouraging. This is the time of year we prefer to focus on a few of those.

Instead of looking for handouts, homeless man hands out resumes…and lands a job. This story just works on so many levels. First, the unexpected juxtaposition of a homeless man, Frederick Callison, handing out resumes instead of looking for handouts is total headline catnip to any news writer. Second, the ultimate feel-good result: a stranger takes Callison’s resume to a local pizza place and he actually lands a job. What we also love? The law of unintended (positive) consequences. Pizza Rock, the small, local restaurant who hired Callison has received mounds of  unabashedly great press. Kudos to all involved.

Chicago Cubs break curse, win pennant.  What round-up of feel-good stories would be complete without mention of this year’s fairy tale World Series? It helps that the Cubs are a national brand, enjoying that distinction with just a few other ball clubs – the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Boston Red Sox. But breaking a 108-year old drought puts them in a class by themselves. And, the team is such a class act. It boasts a roster free of “delinquent” players and its fan base marked the occasion with ecstatic, but mostly arrest-free, partying. So, when we read that the championship adds at least $300 million to the value of the Cubs, based on the incremental marketing, ticket and television income, we say it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

The story of Boston’s Christmas tree. Here in New York, it’s hard to compete for Christmas tree attention with the renowned Rockefeller Center behemoth hogging all the airtime. But this year, courtesy of NPR and others, we learned the heartwarming story behind Boston’s annual tree.  A century ago, a ship ran aground in Halifax, Nova Scotia, killing and injuring thousands. Without even knowing all of the details, Red Cross personnel from Massachusetts mounted a Herculean effort through hundreds of miles and a wicked snowstorm to provide aid. The people of Nova Scotia never forgot and since then they have provided the city’s Christmas tree. We love the story for the act of human kindness but also have to marvel at the great tourism/marketing effort Nova Scotia mounts each year with pre-publicity and the delivery itself. The tree sports a beautiful hometown flag and “Nova Scotia Tree” signage for all to see. Makes you want to plan a trip right now.

Negan and Ant-Man save small-town candy store? Although this happened in 2015, the two (actors Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Paul Rudd) are so modest and low-key it really wasn’t reported anywhere til this year. It seems that the owner of Rhinebeck, NY candy shop, Samuel’s had died and the town was very concerned about the future of the beloved store.  To the rescue come Morgan and Rudd, friends and property owners in Rhinebeck. And although many celebrities own stuff that makes lots of money –  from George Clooney’s tequila to Jay-Z’s Tidal – the candy store is clearly a labor of love and any residual “nice guy” press it garners is well deserved.

We have seen the future and it is “constructive journalism.” While it may be true that the schadenfreude in all of us portends a love of negative news, the truth is positive news or constructive journalism bonds us. One need only look at the numbers for sites like Upworthy or Happiness Heroes or ask yourself if you can resist a story like this to see how a positive piece can positively make your day. In a recent study titled “Publishing the Positive: Exploring the motivations for and the consequences of reading solutions-focused journalism” it was found that “positive news and constructive journalism are seen not only as means to neutralize the damaging impact of the negativity bias, but as news that yields valuable outcomes in their own right.” And who could argue with that?

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