Hawaii Five – Uh-oh

May 31st, 2007

Would you buy a piece of “oceanfront” property in Hawaii that was 3,000 feet under water and wouldn’t be inhabitable for 10,000 years? Me neither. But the Associated Press ( would buy it as a news story. Why? Because it’s got all the elements of a great story. We call it the media S.U.R.E. bet.

In this case S.U.R.E. is an acronym that serves as a guideline for measuring the news value or “coverability” of a story idea or public relations tactic. It stands for Simple, Unique, Relevant and Easy to Cover. If you have every element of S.U.R.E., you can pretty much guarantee your story will garner some coverage — and sometimes three out of four ain’t bad either.

In the case of the uninhabitable Hawaiian paradise, Lo’ihi Development Co. hit on three of the four, but the story was so unique that its lack of real relevancy wasn’t an obstacle. The story is simple. Just like the old “swampland in Florida” analogy, people get it right away. It’s definitely unique. Relevant is a bit of a stretch, but with all the details laid out, it made it easy for reporters to cover. And cover it they did.

What’s crazy is that some people might actually buy the properties – especially given all the media coverage. A Web site will be renovated in the next couple of weeks to officially begin selling parcels for an introductory price of $39.95. Not a bad gag gift, huh? Buyers will receive a brochure and a “deed,” but much like Internet groups that claim to sell stars, they probably can’t call themselves owners. Still, the bragging rights alone make it worthwhile.

So if you’re thinking about buying some land on an underwater volcano called Lo’ihi, you don’t have to be all that certain about your purchase. But if you want to get some media coverage for selling it, you better be S.U.R.E.

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