Journalists are often accused of painting a sensational and negative view of the world, but sometimes it’s irresistible.

A client once complained to me that a local journalist came to interview her about her Boy Scout troop, but seemed much more interested in irrelevant personal details.

“Oh yes?” I inquired politely. “Like what?”

“Well, I used to be the only practising White Witch in the US Army. But I fail to see what that had to do with the Boy Scout troop, which was doing great work in a deprived part of the inner city…”

Erm, I’m with the journalist here, I’m afraid.

Human nature being as it is, you probably find your actuarial practice or stamp collection the most fascinating thing in the world (next of course to your perfect babies and your spouse, who is the world’s most adorable specimen of spousekind, etc etc)

So human nature makes the stuff that you do interesting to you, but not necessarily to other people. To get them interested, you have to inject a bit of spice.

For example, when was the last time you enjoyed sitting through someone else’s holiday videos? They were pretty dull, right? But then they let the bulls loose in the city, and suddenly they became a lot more interesting?

As a journalist I spent many years trying to find the interesting bits – the news – in what people were saying to me, and I became convinced that a key ingredient is PERIL or CONFLICT.

It’s human nature again. Do you remember at primary school, when kids started fighting, in the nanosecond before a teacher split them up, a crowd would form? In the adult world, people pay a fortune to see grown men slugging it out, and a lesser amount to see actors in action movies pretending to bash hell out of each other.

But conflict doesn’t have to be physically violent. Even quite a mild or academic difference of opinion can be portrayed as conflict. And one reason why the weekly UK Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons is so popular.

So how can you use this in your attempts to get people to notice what you say or do?

Try the US Cavalry Model. It’s based on all those corny old movies where the wagon trains were in a circle being attacked by flaming arrows. Suddenly, over the hill comes the 7th cavalry to save the day. So you have conflict, you have peril, but it was all right in the end. (Unless you’re a native American, that is – but that’s a story for another day.)

Here are the steps to creating a news story using this model:

For this purpose your enemy doesn’t have to be physical. It can be an abstraction. You may be fighting against, say, poverty, or ignorance or hardship or at least inconvenience in some way. The dreadful lack of TV channel changers in the world … What would be the consequences if you weren’t there? How awful would it be? And how hard was it to get where you are now? Success is always more interesting when it follows years of struggle or hardship or lack of recognition.

Who or what exactly do your activities benefit? Is it the people of the whole world, or a specific group?

The media use ‘fight’ words like hit, slam, battle, struggle, bid, campaign, because they enhance the conflict and drama of a story. You should too.

Make whatever you’re announcing sound as vigorous and dynamic as you can.

Now write a news release which describes the problem, then tells how your organisation is saving the day in the nick of time.

Good luck!