Ricky Gervais is right (and wrong) about the local paper

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In Ricky Gervais’s latest TV series, After Life, he’s a writer at a free community newspaper.

After several grumpy episodes interviewing local people about their so-called “stories”, Ricky’s character has an epiphany.

He says ‘everybody deserves to be in their local paper’ at least once in their lives.

It’s a lovely thought – in what can be a bleak series – and really resonated with me, because the same attitude can be applied in PR.

With my clients, they’re often keen on gaining media coverage. (Others have different PR goals). And an overlooked side effect of gaining media coverage, is the feeling or emotions it can induce for those people who are featured.

So when your employees are interviewed, and their quotes or images appear in the media, it can give them a real morale boost. Picture the number of times they share that media piece with their family and friends. Imagine that they have the clipping pinned up near their workspace, stuck to the fridge at home, or that they’ve proudly shared it on Facebook.

This means that media coverage can encourage and recognise your staff and volunteers, giving them a very public ‘pat on the back’ for the work they do and what they achieve. They’re being acknowledged for their expertise, or their point of view is being validated. It’s an opportunity for them to take pride in what they do.

It’s important to recognise this additional benefit of media coverage, especially when corporations can be so focused on PR’s ability to feature the CEO, or “contribute to the bottom line”. There are softer, more intangible results which can be meaningful for internal stakeholders over years to come. Just take a look at their scrapbooks.

[Warning: the show trailer below does get a bit sweary]

Note: After Life received varying reviews, but overall I enjoyed it. The newspaper scenes are reminiscent of The Office (which I loved), and also reminded me of my time as a journalist at a country newspaper. It had a similar slow pace – believe me!

I had to laugh at the character who is a photographer, accompanying journalist Ricky Gervais to all stories. Even when I was reporting back in 1993-94, all photographers had been made redundant and journos were expected to take their own pics. Still, Ricky needed a sidekick…

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