Public relations people get so wrapped up in promoting our clients that we sometimes forget we can use your skills to help friends.

Last week, I got an email from David MacNeill, who recorded me last fall for a musical project. Our families have hung out together a few times and become friends.

David said he, his wife and daughter were being evicted from their BSU-area home and they were asking for any work or barter opportunities. A few days later, he sent another email to his social network asking for “micro-loans” from people to help buy a mobile home, an affordable alternative to living in a traditional home (I gave David $50 a few days later).

I forwarded the email to Dave Staats, a Statesman editor, asking if The Statesman could somehow help this family and suggesting there could be a larger story in the issue of people making a run on mobile homes in the current economy. I have asked Staats for coverage of my clients many times in the past and, as always, it all boils down to what extent my story idea serves the public interest.

Later that day, I got a call and some Tweets from reporter Brad Talbutt, saying he had already interviewed David MacNeill and was researching the larger trend.On Sunday, The Statesman published a well-researched story about how “The Valley’s RV parks are being filled up with working-age people who can’t afford to live in a house.”

I like to see my “clients” make the front page of the paper, but the stressful situation of this family just makes me wish the coverage leads to more micro-loans, donations and sales of David’s CDs.  Whatever your profession – law, medicine, sales, construction, development, Web design – consider how you can use your skills to help a friend who needs you.

The story also underscores the importance of newspapers and their ability to judge and define important trends. Without a daily newspaper or other large media, this family’s situation, and the larger trend they represent, would have a much harder time getting notice.

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