May 20, 2020
Navigating media relations in the current onslaught of pandemic coverage can feel like a daunting task. The current news cycle is like nothing we’ve seen before, given the ever-changing nature of the situation. While it might seem there’s no room for your organization in the media, it is possible to stay relevant, to tell meaningful stories and to continue building goodwill – even during this crisis.
Do Your Research
The current news cycle is an all-hands-on-deck situation, so your go-to reporters are likely working on angles outside their regular beat. Spend some time vetting reporters you typically work with to make sure your pitch is relevant and customized to their interests. Additionally, look for stories similar to the ones you’re trying to secure. You might find some great reporters you wouldn’t have identified before. Now is a great time to invest in your relationships to secure even more coverage in the future.
Align Your Messaging with Current News
Don’t be afraid to address the current circumstances. The reporters you work with are aware of how much the current pandemic has disrupted lives and businesses. Address the current situation sensitively and share how your pitch relates to and can help with the ongoing crisis, just as most publications, from lifestyle to trade, have found ways to connect their stories to COVID-19. Be authentic in creating this connection – you should never be capitalizing on this moment, but rather finding genuine ways to speak about what you and your organization are doing during this time and why it’s newsworthy. Remember to be constantly mindful of your tone when conducting your media outreach.
Tell Positive Stories
To connect your organization with the current news cycle, identify how your business is currently helping or how you can help. Offer the media positive stories that show how your business is engaging with and supporting your community at this time. For example, if your product can benefit communities in need, find a way to provide your product to a larger audience. Now is also a great time to invest in your community through CSR initiatives or through your community partners. By being a changemaker in your community, you will build goodwill with your customers, employees and stakeholders, while also creating noteworthy and positive stories that will go a long way in landing news coverage.
News media is moving faster than ever. Reporters are on tight deadlines, and stories are developing and changing rapidly. If you want to stay relevant, stay prepared. Have spokespeople, background information, media assets and anything else you can offer ready to go for when your story lands.
When pitching reporters, acknowledge the environment we’re operating in as you make your case for coverage. Ask yourself throughout this process if now is the right time for this particular pitch to this particular reporter. You may find that your story doesn’t have legs during this crisis, but even if you’re unable to land coverage during this time, adding this level of thoughtfulness to your approach will ensure stronger and longer-lasting relationships with reporters and secure future coverage.