Understanding this point is the Wyoming Fire Sprinkler Coalition, whose members recently attracted the press thanks to a thrilling demonstration comparing sprinklered vs. unsprinklered homes on fire. Once the Laramie Fire Department, a coalition member, wowed the crowd with the demo, they were then able to distill some valuable information. “[Fire sprinklers average to about the] cost to upgrade your carpet in your house, but upgraded carpet isn’t going to save you or your kids’ lives,” Bill Bershinsky with the Laramie Fire Department told a reporter from LaramieLive.com.
If you're looking to get on the media's good side, here are some tactics:
- Get to know your local reporters. Go to your local news websites, search for their names, follow them on Twitter or Facebook, and introduce yourself. If you're a pro-sprinkler fire department or member of a state sprinkler coalition, educate them on home fire sprinklers and tip them off to any sprinkler-related events you may be hosting. Make sure you're constantly on their radar. As a former newspaper reporter, I can attest to the fact that the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
- Do not reinvent the wheel. NFPA's Fire Sprinkler Initiative and the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) have free resources that take the guesswork out of creating media-friendly events. Use HFSC's free Fire and Sprinkler Burn Demonstration Kit for these events, which includes information on media outreach.
- Maximize attendance at your events. What some state coalitions have done is to host sprinkler demonstrations/events around larger events, such as a state fair or conference, that the media may already be attending. Since you'll have that built-in attendee base, it may be easier to attract people and press to your event.
- Give your audience and the press a takeaway. You have just wowed the group with an amazing sprinkler display. Don't let them forget what they had just witnessed. Give them some sort of informational memento, or send them somewhere for more information. For example, print out NFPA's new infographics and hand them out at the event.
Watch the following video showcasing the Laramie Fire Department's recent event: