Monday, August 29, 2005

All News Is Local 

Every newscast in the US led yesterday with hurricane Katrina and its threat to New Orleans. The BBC reported the hurricane about eight places down in its early news headlines. US TV was nearly hysterical with predictions of what would happen to New Orleans. The BBC was more concerned with the constitution in Iraq. (This, by the way, changed by the evening when the hurricane led the news on the BBC.)

All news is local whether international or regional. That's hard for PR practitioners to remember. We may think we have a good global story only to find no one cares about it elsewhere, and one can't dictate reporters' interests.

This was a fact I had to explain to a client recently on a completely different topic. The client was wondering why US reporters pay attention to stories about women directors on corporate boards but rarely write about more important corporate governance issues. They just do, and as hard as I have worked to change their focus over 10 years, I haven't succeeded yet. It may be they find corporate governance boring, and the number of women directors is an easy factoid to report. It may be they don't understand corporate governance, and they don't want to take the time. It may be their editors don't consider the subject important. Whatever the reason, or mix of reasons, they yawn when they get original data related to corporate governance.

So, while US reporters were flooding into New Orleans and Biloxi to document wind, rain and destruction, the BBC was spotlighting 500,000 revellers at the 41st Notting Hill carnival.


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