Working as a journalist for about 20 years, I learned that the best way to avoid getting assigned a lame story idea was to have a long list of cool stories I was already developing.

“Hey, Mike, I really wish I could take on that macrame conference story assignment,” I might say, “but I’m already working on a slew of Page 1 candidates. Investigative stuff that’ll knock your socks off. I’ll send you an e-mail summary later today.”

If you’re a publicist, and you dread the specter of being associated with a lame news release, the same antidote applies: simply come up with a kick-butt story idea that you’re eager to share with the media. Then, far from being sheepish in pitching the story to reporters, you’ll be eager to get on the phone and shoot out those e-mails.

Of course, terrific story ideas don’t always come to mind so simply. You need to devote time to thinking through the angle, and then exploring how you can develop it to the point of a media outreach. A current case in point: the closure of 600 Starbucks across the country. What can you do to tie in a company or a cause that might related to Starbucks’ current struggles?

Whether it’s a caffeinated beverage, another “third place” type of location, or something else, the possibilities abound.

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