Three Things Lois Lane Taught Me About PR

Superman27Seventy five years ago this month the world got their first look at one of the most famous reporters in history, Lois Lane. The character made her debut, along side Superman, in Action Comics #1 which went on sale April 18, 1938. Lois Lane has long passed into pop culture as code for a sharp reporter and modern working woman. No wonder Tina Fey appeared as Lois on the cover of Rolling Stone when 30 Rock aired its last episode earlier this year.

While some people may have been inspired by Woodward and Bernstein to go to Journalism school, I was probably more inspired by Margot Kidder playing Lois Lane in the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. But while these days I sit on the opposite side of the desk from Lois, there are still some things a PR professional can learn from her.

  1. Look hard, the real story may be right in front of you. Lois Lane and everyone around her never quite put together that Clark Kent was Superman. Does your product or client have a good story that you’re just not seeing? Is there another angle that might be a bigger story? Sometimes we get so wrapped up in one angle that we don’t stop to think, “is there something else going on here?” Ask yourself, does your client have a “secret identity”?
  2. Stunts may bring short-term results, but genuine interaction wins in the end. Lois Lane spent the 50s and 60s cooking up plot after plot to get Superman to marry her. Later under new, modern writers Lois stopped chasing Superman, focused even more on her career and slowly built a relationship with Clark Kent. In time, he revealed his identity and the two were married. I’ve occasionally worked with clients on one-off events to provide a quick jolt of visibility and they have worked. But a steady stream of stunts won’t build a sustained program.superman_lois_lane_witch_of_metropolis_huh In the end working with the media regularly by bringing them stories and news gets better result, than say, turning yourself into a witch.
  3. The media are busy, aren’t waiting for you to tell them your story and need to work their beats. If you have ever seen Lois Lane in comics, TV or movies working a story you’d know this. But unfortunately it’s a reality that some PR people still need to be reminded of. The media want real news (And the announcement of your client winning “best of show” at an industry event? That’s most likely not it). They also want stories they can tie into their beats. And know that when you call them, email or Tweet them you are competing with lots of other PR folks to get their attention. So unless you have the reporter’s Kryptonite, spend some time learning what the blogger or reporter you are targeting has written and what angles on your client’s story fit their interests.

Anything you’ve learned from Lois?

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