On one of the publicity coaching calls I had for my members,

some excellent topics came up.  One of them is the use of

scare headlines to get the attention of reporters.  We went into

a lot of detail on the call, but it’s well worth briefly

addressing the issue here.

 

A scare headline is simply one that is intended to scare people

into finding out more, taking action, buying a product or

whatever.

 

If you haven’t read John Stossel’s book “Give Me A Break”, you

should.  It’s an excellent book.  He talks about scare headlines

quite a bit.

 

My position on them is clear:  I hate them and I think they’re

unethical.

 

If the risk you’re talking about in your scare headline is a

legitimate risk for a significant number of people, it’s no

longer a scare headline, it’s the truth.  I’m fine with that.

 

If, though, you’re simply juicing up the truth to make it sound

more frightening than it really is or if the risk affects a

miniscule number of people, it’s simply intended to get attention

at the cost of other people.  That falls well below my ethical

radar.

 

Yep, some news shows use that tactic all the time.  I think

they’re scum.  They constantly have people in a panic, just to

draw viewers to their show.

 

Some newspapers use that tactic to sell papers.  They’re scum

too.

 

It all comes down to what you feel is more important – is it more

important for you to put some dubiously earned dollars in the

bank or is it important for you to tell the truth?

 

One of my favorite quotes is:

 

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters.

If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”

 

It sure is very tempting to rattle people up with a scarce story

– and it’s actually pretty easy to do.  But that’s where

integrity comes in.  I’d much rather have less money in the bank

and be able to sleep at night than to know I have people jittery

because of some nonsense scare I stirred up.

 

I just saw an atrocious play in New York called “Unbecoming”.

The entire premise of the play is that 98% of all hysterectomies

are unnecessary and are done often to butcher women and make

money for the greedy physicians.  I sat there feeling that the

person who wrote the play simply wanted to create a scare to sell

tickets to this pitiful excuse for a stand on an issue.  He didn’t

seem to want to let facts get in the way of his scarce.

 

It’s very trendy to condemn God and the medical community for

just about everything these days.  But it’s funny how, when a

serious problem comes up, people say “Oh God, where’s the

emergency room?”.

 

Don’t join the scum brigade.  There are enough opportunities to

get legitimate publicity for your stories.  No need to rely on

sensational scares that are little more than blatant lies

intended to make people do business with you out of fear.

 

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