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No Such Thing as a New Idea

Though the quote sometimes varies, and has been attributed alternatively to Mark Twain and poet Audre Lourde, the sentiment holds true: there is no such thing as a new idea.

This is what makes marketers jump out of bed with glee every morning. If there are no new ideas, then marketing and PR is all about packaging. The possibilities for pitching are endless. What do I mean? It’s all about the context of the product, its relevance in today’s world, and its resonance with today’s market. Here’s how to make it work for you.

New packaging advances discussion on an existing idea.

Is new information being made public?

Is evidence now available that supports or debunks long-held assumptions?

Are key people talking for the first time?

Is there evidence to support a new theory? Is there a compelling angle that will help an audience understand an issue?

How can we retell the story?

Take global warming. Most of these stories bore the hell out of people, either because they don’t understand the science or can’t conceptualize global warming.

Let’s take the hypothetical of a young biologist who grew up plastering her room with posters of polar bear cubs and is now doing field research on polar bears in the Arctic. She manages to follow five bears over an entire year. She goes through three sets of boots. She produces field notes that rival Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” and journals extensively. What does she eat? How does she manage in the 18 hours of darkness in the depth of winter? How far does one need to trek to follow a polar bear? Is she afraid of falling through the ice? What are her survival skills? There’s a story here. None of these details are overtly about global warming, but they convey the passion of someone who is at the forefront of research and the effects on our climate. Global warming is wrapped up in a more compelling, accessible package.

How could you not care about these guys?

How to package legal services similarly?

Find the passion or data behind the polar bear. Does this case have 1,000,000-to-1 odds, but is being pursued anyway? That’s a story. Does this keep the attorney up at night, worrying she or he will produce the wrong case law if she or he fails? (And what does she do when she’s up all night?) That’s a story. Do you have a compelling polar bear that presents well to the media? That’s a story. Is this attorney drawing on the wisdom of mentors who broke legal ground, who in turn had mentors generations back? Then you have a near-mythical piece of a quixotic search for justice.

Find what is unique about your story and package it accordingly.

Susan Kostal is a legal marketing and media coach specializing in the Bay Area legal industry. Find more great content on Twitter @skostal.

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