Hermanstorfer Miracle Baby - Story Goes Global (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

Now it's gone global - how that happens.


Everyone loves a good story, and it doesn't get much better than this.  Now everyone, everyone, knows about this one.  Here's how.

It all starts with full credit to Memorial Hospital, to the medical team members who made it happen. As for the story-behind-the-story, credit to Memorial's Public Relations staff for recognizing that this was a story that needed to be told, and for arranging to tell it.

On Monday afternoon Memorial sent out a news release about the Hermanstorfer family and what happened.  11 News reporter Rick Montanez saw the e-mail release and in our afternoon editorial meeting said he wanted to cover it.  We all agreed. 

We also had a couple of discussions.  We all thought that if this story really was what the news release made it sound like..it was going to be incredible.  We also talked about the idea that a big part of the story was the fact that mom and baby were going home that day.  We talked about quietly asking the family if our crew could go to the house to be there when they got home.  That way we could take the story beyond the news conference at the hospital.

Rick and photographer Mike Petkash did just that.  Other stations covered the story, at least the news conference part, but 11 News covered the story better.

Here's how the next step happens.  We're a CNN affiliate, one of hundreds across the nation.  CNN has regional producers who are in daily, even hourly contact with affiliated stations in their region.  They're always looking for the best stories to take in for the network and all the other affiliates to use.  They heard about this story and we were able to up-link it to them by satellite.  Once CNN has the story they start running it.  They also put it on their website, with a direct link to Rick's story on kktv.com.  That's how our website got more than 328,000 hits in just a couple of days.

We're a CBS station, and it works much the same way.  We're able to send material to CBS by internet.  Once they get it,  it means all the CBS affiliates across the nation had access to it as well.  An important factor here is the timing. This information was released during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.  It is historically a spell during which stations struggle with a lack of big local news. That means producers are always looking for great stories from other markets to enhance their newscasts. This story was perfect for that.  TV stations really do want to bring you uplifting stories whenever they can.

Many of them ran Rick's piece exactly as it aired on KKTV.  Others may have cut it down to a shorter version to be read by anchors, some may have had their own reporters or anchors re-work it and re-voice it.  So the story started getting lots of air time and picking up lots of momentum.  CNN put the family in a small television studio in Colorado Springs and talked to them live, more momentum.

The network morning shows start battling each other to get the family on the air live. We arranged to make our satellite truck available for the CBS Early Show to talk to the family. That fell through.  I don't know what the booker from another network said to the Hermanstorfers to get them to appear on that show and no other. The family did tell Rick that he was the one reporter who had been the nicest and the easiest to deal with throughout what had become an overwhelming situation for them.

At the same time newspaper and wire stories had been written and sent out. That would drive more people to search for it on line because they wanted to see and hear "Miracle Mom" and not just read about her.  Many of them wound up at cnn.com, or cbs.com or kktv.com.  Once it gets that big it knows no borders. 

Overseas networks start picking it up, indirectly from us, and from the other stations who went to Memorial on Monday. 

Here we are, two days later and the story is on the BBC's website.  I also found it as the lead story on Hindu, the on-line version of India's largest newspaper.  Many of these outlets site KKTV as the source of the quotes or the information.  That drives even more people to kktv.com. 

Millions worldwide have now seen the story from one source or another.  Millions worldwide are now celebrating the fact that this mother and child are alive and well.  It all started with an e-mail on a Monday.  Now everyone knows the story....and everyone loves a good story.

We'll talk again soon.


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