There are only two ways to break through the clutter with media – create your own news or jump on someone else’s.
As PR professionals, we need to be equally skilled at both. One requires creative storytelling that excites and intrigues, but actually has a point or a purpose (i.e., solving a real issue or business challenge). The other involves following breaking news that impacts your client’s world and inserts their perspective into the mix.
Both of these approaches are fantastic ways to keep your client’s name in the public eye in the absence of announcements. Nothing new to share with media? No problem – we’ll create it.
Creating News: This is the most common and preferred approach in PR. If a client wants to make a big splash with media, or create a barrage of coverage around an announcement, the best way to accomplish this is to create a compelling narrative around the news. This typically requires a creative spin to make the news relevant and timely, which are criteria for any reporter writing a story.
When creating news, think about the announcement in the following way: What’s the problem? Why is this a problem? How can your client solve the problem? This approach is particularly useful when a company is looking to sell a product, announce a strategic initiative, bring attention to an issue or cause, or raise the visibility of a senior executive.
Creating news also works well when there is none. This can be done in a number of ways: leveraging case studies or success stories, releasing survey findings or new data, hosting an event, piecing together “old” news to create a trends story or momentum release; the list goes on.
Chasing News: There will always be lulls in substantial news. If creating news doesn’t work, look to breaking news.
We call this approach “newsjacking.” Once a relevant story breaks, we work quickly with our client to respond. Reporters aren’t necessarily trained subject matter experts; they need sources who can answer their questions promptly and knowledgeably. With immediate action, quick thinking and executive insight, you can secure fast coverage and long-lasting relationships with media.
For a client in the retail space, we leveraged Wall Street Journal and Reuters articles on how retailers are being shoved into the contentious political arena – whether they like it or not. We worked with our client to comment on how retailers should prepare for this change, and booked him guest spots on CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” Bloomberg Radio and Cheddar TV.
Securing media coverage is a challenge. Journalists receive anywhere from 80-100 email pitches per day, and every journalist has his or her own pitching preference (some welcome phone calls; others will literally hang up on you if you call their desk). Make the right offer – either a relevant company announcement that addresses an industry issue, or a valuable and prompt perspective on breaking news – and you can directly impact the quality and quantity of a client’s media coverage.