Media Minute: What’s in a name?

Media Minute: What’s in a name?

By Jerry Brown, APR

Media Minute: What's in a nameDo you remember the Church Lady Bandit, the Three-Eyed Bandit or the Droopy-Drawers Bandit?

If so, you have FBI Agent Harry Trombitas to thank. Frustrated by being unable to get attention for a rash of bank robberies in central Ohio in the 1990s, Trombitas started coming up with catchy nicknames for some of the criminals he was trying to collar. He’s been doing it ever since. And it’s resulted in a dramatic increase in media coverage that helped solve some of the crimes.

What Trombitas did is an excellent use of PR to get attention. Trombitas himself is in the news this week because he’s retiring. I’d never heard of Trombitas until yesterday, when I saw a story about his retirement. But I’ve heard about some of his bandits who got national notoriety because of the names he gave them. Even if you haven’t heard of any of them, I can pretty much guarantee that anyone who’s lived in the part of Ohio where he works has. And his retirement is making national news because of what he accomplished.

Stumped when it comes to finding a hook to get your story noticed? Maybe you can follow Trombitas’s example and come up with a catchy name or activity that will help you get attention.

One of my favorite examples, which I’ve used before in the Media Minute, is Butterball. Through the simple tactic of renaming their company call center Butterball University and making the woman who manages the center the “dean” of the “university,” Butterball gets an amazing amount of national publicity every Thanksgiving and Christmas by offering free phone help to cooks all over America who need help getting an edible turkey onto the table.

Butterball could get some of that publicity just for the free advice they offer. But the use of the Butterball University name makes it an easier story to sell — and means much more publicity than they would get otherwise.

What’s your hook for your story?

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

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One Response to “Media Minute: What’s in a name?”

  1. John Wren Says:

    Politicians use names, good and bad, to promote themself and to attack the opposition, from Flip Flop Bob to Honest John Shafroth, who was Governor when Colorado adopted our caucus-assembly system for nominating to the primary ballot, one of the Teddy Roosevelt progressive reforms that swept the country.

    We had the 100th anniversary of Shafroth’s biennial Colorado Caucus this year with not so much as a ripple about the historic occasion. I’ve often wondered if part of the problem has to do with the name, few people know what to think when you say you’re going to your neighborhood caucus.

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