current eventsWhen human-interest pieces revolve around current events, the stories too often have a self-serving perspective. But, while being mindful not to exploit those events, public relations professionals may be able to find a point-of-view that genuinely builds on those events and creates a “second-day” opportunity for journalists.

Specifically, the recent kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria has generated a lot of attention for how women are threatened, and the lack of educational resources necessary to complete their educations. Stanton PRM works (pro bono) with the African Leadership Academy (ALA), which finds young men and women who are not only scholars but also leaders, then gives them the opportunity to attend high school and elite U.S. colleges, provided they return to Africa to help those less fortunate. Stanton identified two young Nigerian women who are ALA scholars currently studying at U.S. universities and who wanted to share their stories with the public.

While being sensitive to the kidnapping tragedy, we pitched a “counterpoint story” based on the educational experiences of Sheila Chukwulozie and Olivia Iloetonma, who will soon graduate from Amherst and Vassar Colleges, respectively, before returning home to implement programs designed to offer hope to young Africans.

Sheila started EmoART, an after-school program for teens that infuses the arts with lessons in emotional intelligence and self-sufficiency. Olivia started her own business at ALA; now she wants to use her expertise to invest in other African startups as well as educational opportunities for other African girls.

By “putting a face” on two of the ALA’s Nigerian women scholars who are making a difference, Stanton generated an inspirational story in The Washington Post on what these two women have done—and what Nigerian women can do given the chance—that generated positive publicity for them and the ALA—which gave them that chance.

-Michael Kassin

Photo via Flickr account Jon S