Media Relations 101 – Creating Coverage in the Absence of Breaking News
The media is rapidly moving and adjusting at lightning speed – especially in today’s current environment when a story breaks every half hour. This means that it’s challenging and even daunting at times, to reach out to media with stories that won’t make the front page.
But what happens when you don’t have any hard news to share? PR professionals are often faced with this challenge when working with professional services organizations. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the consulting or financial industries, but we sometimes find ourselves up against the black hole of news – an absence of traditional hard news.
Instead, we find alternative ways to get our clients in the media, talking about their organization and sharing their expertise.
As we learned from Media Relations 101 – The Persistent Publicist, we don’t always need to reach out to reporters with a pitch. Perhaps it’s complimenting a recent byline or even suggesting they have coffee with your client. These introductory meetings are an opportunity for your client to build a rapport with the reporter and to showcase his/her expertise and perspective. The media typically enjoy these conversations and might even add your client to their expert resource list for future stories. The next time they need someone to comment on the latest breaking news, your phone might start ringing!
When there’s a breaking news alert, you’re in luck if your client is an expert on the topic and has a unique perspective. Be sure to pitch swiftly to ensure your client is the first expert to reach the reporter’s inbox. (A great way to be sure a client is queued up to speak on a topic is, of course, to be a news hound! Read, learn what’s being discussed and figure out what the “day two” or “week two” stories will be. Talk with your client ASAP to get their perspective on the topic and their interest in commenting.) Before pitching, make sure your client is available to speak with media so you’re not wasting a reporter’s precious time to meet his/her deadline.
Digging Deeper – Story Mining
Take the time to ask questions. Learn about your client’s company culture, community engagement, company experts or philanthropic initiatives. There might be new media opportunities to uncover that are beyond your traditional media relations program.
When there isn’t breaking news relevant to your client’s area of expertise, proactively pitch your client and his/her subject matter to industry trades. These publications are often looking for contributed content and can present an opportunity to help thoughtfully craft a byliner on behalf of your client and amplify their key organizational messages to target audiences.
Leveraging What’s Next
Whether it’s the release of a study on consumer shopping habits or M&A activity driven by industry changes, your client might have a unique perspective to share with media on trends impacting their industry.
While commenting on these trends requires fast action (see Expert Pitching above), integrating fixed calendar events into your annual PR program ensures that your client’s expertise is shared across multiple channels at different times throughout the year. When are the major events, reports, occasions in your industry? Build them into your editorial calendar so you can develop a media strategy well in advance.
Being a strong communicator not only means amplifying your client’s news, but also means thinking about creative ways to put the spotlight on a person and/or organization with the projects and successes that are already on the table. Do your research, ask questions and think beyond the press release.