How Orlando PR Man Made National Story out of Trayvon Martin Shooting


News coverage of the Trayvon Martin case began as a routine police-blotter item, what an Orlando editor called “a fight gone bad.” The Washington Post says it is likely that Martin's death, which resulted in the arrest of hooter George Zimmerman, would never have crowded into the national consciousness had it not been for Martin's family, its lawyers, and an enterprising PR man.

A pivotal, if little-known, figure in the story's development was Ryan Julison, an Orlando public relations executive who began working with the Martin family at the behest of its attorneys, Benjamin Crump and Natalie Jackson. Julison finally found two takers: the Reuters wire service and CBS News. Reuters moved a 14-paragraph story on the case March 7. The next morning, “CBS This Morning” aired a piece by reporter Mark Strassman in which Trayvon's father, Tracy, expressed his grief over his son's death and outrage that Zimmerman was still free — two elements that would stoke the coverage for weeks. “It was one of those stories that, when you hear the pitch, you just say, 'Wow, this has to be told,' ” said Chris Licht, executive producer of the morning program.

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