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Finding the People: Highlighting the “Who” in Media Relations

How many times have you watched or read a news sto­ry and laughed, teared up or were inspired to act or learn more? Chances are, that sto­ry fea­tured a per­son you con­nect­ed with. Or, in my case, some­times, a dog.

When we start work­ing with a client, and through­out our part­ner­ship, we try to look for that human (or occa­sion­al­ly canine) ele­ment that helps tell the client’s sto­ry and con­nects with audi­ences – beyond what a press release or fact sheet can deliv­er. Over the past year and a half alone, when the world was bom­bard­ed with tough news on a reg­u­lar basis, we’ve had the plea­sure of telling many char­ac­ter-dri­ven sto­ries for our clients. These relat­able, inter­est­ing sto­ries have helped cut through the noise to earn cov­er­age in a time with no short­age of news to cov­er. Here are a few that have helped share sto­ries by putting the peo­ple first.

  • Mid­west Dairy: The Retire­ment of a But­ter Sculpt­ing Leg­end – Not only are the Princess Kay but­ter sculp­tures at the Min­neso­ta State Fair icon­ic and unique, but behind every one of them is also a sto­ry. When but­ter sculp­tor Lin­da Chris­tensen decid­ed to retire after 50 years of carv­ing the like­ness of Princess Kay of the Milky Way and final­ists in but­ter, local – and nation­al – media came call­ing. They want­ed to tell the amaz­ing sto­ry of Linda’s jour­ney, along with some of the sto­ries of the more than 500 dairy princess­es who have been immor­tal­ized in but­ter over the last half cen­tu­ry. Even though the but­ter sculp­tures are a clas­sic Min­nesotan tra­di­tion, when it comes to the peo­ple behind the carv­ings, their sto­ries res­onate beyond our state lines, as told this year by the Wash­ing­ton Post and CBS Sun­day Morn­ing.
  • Lead for Min­neso­ta: A Young Man Hon­or­ing the Past While Look­ing to the Future – When we heard James Clark’s sto­ry, a Fel­low with our client Lead for Min­neso­ta, we knew it would strike a chord with the media and com­mu­ni­ty alike. As a proud descen­dant of the Non-Remov­able Mille Lacs Band of Ojib­we, James Clark —or Oza­awaanakwad (Yel­low Cloud) in Ojib­we — is work­ing hard through his fel­low­ship to pre­serve the Ojib­we lan­guage and cul­ture for future gen­er­a­tions, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of his well-respect­ed great-grand­fa­ther. The Star Tri­bune recent­ly met with James and the elders of the Ojib­we band and shared his sto­ry, along with the role Lead for Min­neso­ta has had in help­ing James do this impor­tant work.
  • Miles for MnFIRE: Rais­ing Aware­ness of Fire­fight­er Health Con­cerns One Step at a Time – We’ve worked with the Min­neso­ta Fire­fight­er Ini­tia­tive (MnFIRE) since its incep­tion in 2016, and we know that when we get to tell moti­va­tion­al sto­ries from the fire­fight­ers them­selves, the com­mu­ni­ty lis­tens. For exam­ple, this inspir­ing sto­ry of fire­fight­er Doug Foote’s 200-mile jour­ney across Min­neso­ta to raise aware­ness and funds for fire­fight­er health was cov­ered by many media out­lets along his route, from the Mon­te­v­ideo Amer­i­can-News to FOX 9 to the Chan­has­sen Vil­lager. In the end, Foote end­ed up rais­ing more than $20,000 for the cause.
  • Mir­a­cle Ear Foun­da­tion: The Peo­ple Behind the Hear­ing Aids The Mir­a­cle Ear Foun­da­tion works around the coun­try to give the gift of sound to peo­ple who may not oth­er­wise be able to afford hear­ing aids. A few of our team mem­bers work with the foun­da­tion to tell those inspir­ing sto­ries of well-deserv­ing recip­i­ents to raise aware­ness to those who may want to sup­port the orga­ni­za­tion and to those who may be eli­gi­ble for free hear­ing aids, includ­ing this sto­ry of can­cer sur­vivor Tan­ner Onder from Des Moines, Iowa, as fea­tured in the Des Moines Reg­is­ter.
  • Zum­bro­ta Dri­ve­train: Gear­heads Unite for Employ­ee Car Show — In an ini­tial fact-find­ing meet­ing about the com­pa­ny, our team learned that the employ­ees at Zum­bro­ta Dri­ve­train were host­ing an upcom­ing inau­gur­al employ­ee car show. What greater way to show the cul­ture behind a trans­mis­sion man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pa­ny than high­light­ing their work­ers’ pas­sion for cars out­side of work? We jumped on pitch­ing this sto­ry, and it was picked up by sev­er­al out­lets includ­ing the Rochester Post-Bul­letin. This just shows that while the human-inter­est and char­ac­ter sto­ries might not be imme­di­ate­ly top of mind, chances are they are there – and ready to be told with a lit­tle bit of digging.

These are just a hand­ful of exam­ples – I bet you can think of many sto­ries that have res­onat­ed with you over the years.

Final­ly, we had noth­ing to do with telling this sto­ry, but for the sake of throw­ing dog-inter­est sto­ries a bone (sor­ry, couldn’t help it), check out Cassie the dog’s sto­ry, as only KARE 11’s Boyd Hup­pert can tell it.

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