Friday, October 06, 2006

Journalists are our friends....

We like journalists. They bring the baby milk issue and the Nestlé boycott to a wide audience.

All we need is a suitable peg, because the only news is new news. Old news is not news. It's history.

With a long-running campaign 'Nestlé boycott still on' is not going to be a prominent story - unless there is a fresh angle.

This can be monitoring evidence, such as when the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) launches the Breaking the Rules reports showing what baby food companies are doing around the world. But more often our publicity comes with links to stories about breastfeeding or the antics of Nestlé.

So we were front-page news when Dame Anita Roddick sold Body Shop to L'Oreal earlier this year. The first announcements of the deal made no mention of the link between L'Oreal and Nestlé, though Nestlé owns 28% of the company. Our media work meant it was routinely mentioned in later reports. 'Anita sells out' was the headline on the cover of The Independent newspaper and we appeared in many other publications and gave radio interviews (no TV on this ocassion - though something was scheduled and fell through).

We used to have a press cuttings service, but cancelled it with our budget squeeze. So we miss a lot of the coverage we generate. The internet does help as most search engines have an option for checking news sources. But we are often taken by surprise to see where our news stories crop up.

I was travelling back from London to Cambridge on the train shortly after we had issued a statement on a response we had received from Dame Anita (press release 10 May 2006). I picked up an Evening Standard left on the train and flicking through saw a full page article on the ethical dilemmas thrown up by the Nestlé link, including a picture of a boycott leaflet downloaded from our website. A few weeks later reading through Ethical Consumer magazine there was a picture from leafleting boycott supporters had done outside Bournemouth Body Shop (well done folks), again taken from our website.

Top tips. Put high resolutions on your website and quotes in your press releases. You make life easier for journalists, who are busy people working to deadlines. They can then write an article without necessarily having to speak with you. Which is great for reducing your workload - but means you don't always see the articles.

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