I know you are busy but YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!  If you want to know what our future is about then I want to share a key example.  Something that began just a few years ago and is now starting to pop up with a frequency that makes it into a trend. A trend now being picked up by major media.   Something that will help us reengage that part of the market we have been losing.

My thanks to The Funeral Service Insider for bringing this to my attention by posting a link to the Forbes article on their Facebook Page.


Why Is This Important?

Because this is not a “feel good” public service move by print media.  This is a way newspapers believe will  get them back into the paid obit game.  If they succeed it will preempt you.  So, you need to be in front of it not behind it.  This is a great opportunity for a great PR move that will help you Reinvent Your Image.  

Forbes magazine (indicates national press interest) recently published an article about an odd event that occurred at The Toronto Star in March of this year entitled        But Don’t Go there Yet unless you intend to come back here!

The Incredible Story of Why A Newspaper Sent 15 Reporters To Cover The Funeral Of An Ordinary 55-Year-Old Woman

 I have something to tell you.  Here is an excerpt from the Forbes article:

“Sometimes an ordinary life is completely extraordinary — and hearing about it stops you dead in your tracks and makes you reflect about yours.

A story first appeared in the Toronto Star in March that I only just heard about through a tweet last week.

Imagine picking up your local newspaper and seeing a 4,000 word essay — beautifully written by 15 reporters no less — on the life of a recently deceased 55-year-old woman.

But, instead of the woman being a head of state, a princess, or a celebrity, this story is about a nobody.  It’s the nobodies who fill the obituaries every day that we never pay attention to.

In fact, this was a woman who the primary author of the story, Catherine Porter, hadn’t heard about until one month prior to the story running, when she randomly came across her obituary when reading the paper casually.

The obituary was for a woman named Shelagh Gordon.  She never married.  For a time she sold wine, but was then laid off.  She got a job selling ads in a condo magazine, thanks to her sister.  She took anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication.  She texted her family often and checked her Facebook messages all the time.  She also referred to herself as a “freak.”

Why did a newspaper decide to pull 15 reporters aside to then do 4,000 words, exploring the boring life of such an insignificant person?  Because, in such a random and fluky way, they found an amazing life that had never been noticed before by anyone else outside Shelagh’s family and they felt compelled to share it with the world.

It’s important you read it because, in reading the story of Shelagh, you start to realize how wonderfully rich are the lives of the scores of faceless people we pass each day on the bus or subway.  You also see the importance and the fragility of your own life through her story”

I Want You To Do Two things

A few months ago I published an article entitled: Differentiate Your Funeral Home: Reinvent The Obituary The article featured a video panel of the leading obit writers of several of the world’s largest newspapers discussing the need to reinvent the obituary in order to recover relevance and preserve the practice.  As you well know many newspapers are hanging by an economic thread.  This story by the Toronto Star exemplifies this quiet but growing trend…a trend all funeral homes should be leading not following.   So, first view the video by clicking the link above.  It will help you see where this is going.

Feel free to read the Forbes version of the original article above but,  Second, I urge you to go to the original source at The Toronto Star to see how they have incorporated some amazing interactive graphics.  Click here Toronto StarI bet you could do this on your own website.

Here is what I would do: 

When I published the original article on reinventing the obituary I asked John Callaghan to look into how he could help funeral directors do just that.  I would contact him and find out what he has accomplished.  I would approach my local paper and negotiate with them to highlight a local ordinary citizen in the way the Toronto Star did at least monthly, weekly if I could.  It would be exclusive under my banner and logo.  If they didn’t cooperate I would simply do it on my own website.

One last thought: It is impossible to produce an obit of this type coincident with the service.  Why does it have to be?  There is no reason it can’t be published a few weeks later…ON YOUR WEBSITE.   If you feel you have to do it for free then only include it in your high end burial and cremation services.  PUT A PRICE ON IT FOR ALL OTHER SERVICES.

CONTACT John Callaghan here: John Callaghan

DISCLAIMER:  I asked John to take on this project because he has the ability to do it.  There is no economic relationship between us.  I simply respect his work.

Tomorrow we will resume our regularly scheduled post on a new pricing strategy