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  • Writer's pictureTom Butler


Photo: Newspaper Stand, Vonderauvisuals

There are certain news stories that stick out in all of our minds. These are stories that resonate and leave a lasting impressing, even after the news cycle has moved on to the “next big thing.”

This September, our firm had the honor of leading a national earned media campaign about a male breast cancer cluster that materialized among those exposed to toxins from the World Trade Center site.

In the days and weeks following the September 11th, 2001 attacks on New York, everyone was told the air was safe and to return to their apartments; students poured back into their classrooms, and employees returned to work, even before the dust had settled.

Keeping in mind that the 17th anniversary of 9/11 isn’t exactly a noteworthy anniversary, what’s the compelling news hook?

While certainly not trying to make light of this situation, effectively crafting your news narrative is something any corporate communications leadership team must be exceedingly clear about.

The answer: statistically speaking, only 1 in 100,000 men will contract breast cancer in their lifetime, making it among the rarest forms of cancer. Given 450,000 people and around 300,000 men were exposed to 9/11 toxins, odds are that only 3 males of this subset could contract the disease.

Sadly, the reality is more than 22 of the men exposed already have breast cancer!

Once factual, anecdotal evidence and the real, compelling stories of the individual victims could be chronicled and fact-checked by our communications team, it was time to get media results that generate headlines.

The victims stories raise concerns for everyone in lower Manhattan following the attacks. Each serves as a reminder to others of the oddity of contracting this rare disease and life and death importance of registration with the World Trade Center Health Program, before it is too late.

350,000 of the estimated 450,000 who responded, lived or worked below Canal Street have not yet registered. They currently reside all across the USA, hailing from 433 of 435 congressional districts and 49 U.S. states.

Through lots of hard work and coordination of a great PR team and an amazing client, the story was one of the most widely seen in the news cycles.

The campaign received tremendous national media coverage from Newsweek, People Magazine; 12 minutes on CBS-TV Network News; Good Morning America and major national coverage on Fox, NBC, NY Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Guardian and London Daily Mail, and so many more

What makes up the DNA of a compelling story?

Remember that capturing the attention of influential audiences is mission critical. While 24-hour news cycles and ever changing media landscapes certainly challenge us all, with the right narrative and presentation, there is a way to dominate with headlines that matter.

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