Why the media loved the lion in Essex

The British media has had a great couple of weeks recently; from naked photos of Prince Harry partying in Las Vegas to the more serious matter of the battle for US presidency, there was a lot of ink on paper. But one piece of news stood out of the crowd for its bizarreness: the sighting of a lion in Essex!

As it turns out, it is likely that the ferocious creature was nothing more than an overweight tomcat, but still, the story was covered by almost every national media outlet. More than once. 

So after sheepishly coming out from under my sofa (where I took refuge for fear of wildcats on the loose obviously) I wondered what makes the press latch on to these strange, bizarre and…well, unlikely accounts.

Reports of escaped dangerous animals terrifying neighbourhoods are a news archetype. These kinds of stories appear regularly in the media; in fact you could almost make a list of them. One way of generating coverage through PR is to emulate the news angle, piggy backing your own content on it.

A multimillion contract between companies employing hundreds of people sounds like a sturdy piece of news, but does it produce the same effect on the audience as a lion roaming the streets of Essex? There isn’t as much excitement, fear and danger associated with the creation of a new factory and subsequent workplaces in the community. This means that an extraordinary and hard to believe tale will take precedence over such business news.

The trade press works in a similar way and chooses to cover those stories that will create a strong reaction from the readers. Although articles are more sensible - as in they will not cover mysterious creatures and UFO sightings - the trade media is very much interested in things like changes in legislation, comments from trade bodies, senior appointments or mergers. Equally, an explosion at a dairy processing plant will be on the front page, leaving things like new energy saving technologies for the rear of the magazine.

Technical and engineering companies should bear in mind the magazines’ need for interesting and original pieces of content when pitching in ideas. For instance, a hard news press release about the your plant’s new division can always benefit from an interesting angle such as the creation of 30 jobs, the environmentally friendly nature of the site or a smart CO2 emissions monitoring system.

Finding the ‘escaped lion’ in your company may sound like a difficult task, but if done properly, it translates into many column centimetres over time. If you need a bit of help with finding the right news angle for your organisation, give us a call.

Editor's note: Stone Junction is a technical PR agency and does not handle any stray cats, dogs or dangerous wildlife escaped from the zoo.   

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Oana Baetica - Technical PR consultant

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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