It's an unfortunate fact that the media doesn't typically crave success stories. Reporters are more inclined to cover stories on destruction, accidents, or system failures and less likely to underscore when something went right. Think about the number of recent stories on catastrophic home fires you may have seen or watched, and compare them to the stories (if any) of people saved by the proper activation of a smoke alarm or fire sprinkler. There's sadly some truth behind the journalistic maxim: "If it bleeds, it reads."
Granted, those stories involving the unfortunate impact of home fires should be highlighted as a means to underscore a problem that isn't going away. However, the solution should also be promoted whenever possible. Simply telling a news outlet that a sprinkler activated may or may not get a reporter's attention. Backing an activation with what-could-have-been scenarios and solid facts may bolster your chances of getting something published or on air.
Here's one example of a "sprinkler save" pitch that works. The story starts with the headline "Redmond's mandatory residential sprinklers saves home thousands in fire damages." Todd Short, the town's fire marshal and member of the Washington Fire Sprinkler Coalition, underscored that this sprinkler activation saved more than $100,000 in damages. If you, too, are able to quantify similar numbers following activations, please share those figures with the media.
Short also ties this success to a fire sprinkler requirement that's been in effect for more than a decade. “With the automatic activation of the residential fire sprinkler system, this fire event was quickly and successfully contained to the garage,” he told a local news outlet. “This is a great example of the benefits of residential fire sprinklers and the reason that Redmond adopted a requirement for fire sprinklers in all newly built homes since 2007.”
Please follow Short's approach when sending out a news release on a sprinkler save or communicating these saves with the media.