Change the story with spin ...
Posted on: 15/10/2012 By: Judith Halliday
You can't help feeling just a little bit sorry for Peter Rabbit. Just try to see it from his point of view. OK, he might have been eating Mr McGregor's vegetables, but then he was getting the best part of his five a day. It wasn't his fault he lost his shoes and jacket, his mum obviously didn't make sure they fit properly. And being made to drink camomile tea is surely just plain unfair when you already feel slightly nauseous ...
was peter getting his five a day or was he simply a glutton?
What Mrs Josephine Rabbit and possibly Beatrix Potter, not to mention Mr McGregor (who will have had a glut of lettuces anyway, if my experience of gardening is anything to go by) failed to realise is that there are two sides to every story and it really does depend on who you believe.
Young Peter just needed a bit of spin and if he'd given Alistair Campbell a call the minute he made it back through that fence, it could have been a very different story. In journalism and PR spin is known as either self-promotion or damage limitation, it's only spin when it's done by people with whom you don't agree.
But what matters most, usually, is getting your story out there first. Good or bad, when you're first with the news you tend to control the way the news goes out. Tell your side - truthfully and sensibly, but on your own terms - before someone else beats you to it and you end up either looking like you're jumping on a bandwagon or else making excuses.
So if you think you've eaten too many lettuces, you'll need to concentrate on the health benefits, the vitamin intake that involves, your clear support for the local lettuce industry and possibly name check Mr McGregor (contact details and a logo) to show your appreciation. If Mr McGregor gets in first, he's going to make you look like an unwanted glutton that can't be trusted and doors to the lettuce producing world will start to slam.
So take control - stand by the things you did right, explain why you did the things you didn't necessarily do right and don't let the spin of others give you indigestion.
Until next time ...
My writing career began under the bright lights of Gateshead in 1986 - who wouldn't love a job that offered the chance to listen to Gateshead Borough Council's Public Waste Committee debate the introduction of wheelie bins for three hours? It was the start of a working life that taught me what makes a good story and how to tell it and, although I don't have a news editor lurking ready to throw things at me any more, or so much of an interest in wheelie bins, my love of writing and a fascination with talking to people and telling their stories is as strong as ever.
Today I work for Business Times in Northampton and the Northants Evening Telegraph as well as providing copywriting services and press releases for a number of local companies.
When I'm not doing that, I indulge in the things I love most, which include, in no particular order: my teenage children, Sunderland football club, my husband, chocolate, QI, Chinese noodles, my closest friends, Test Match Special, red wine, reading in bed, The Sound of Music and growing vegetables.