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How to engage media in the current climate

Last year everyone was talking about how the news agenda was saturated with the B word (Brexit). This pales in comparison next to the dominating effect that the C word (Coronavirus) is having. The impact has been wide reaching; from never-ending content to structural changes at media outlets in the form of closures or furloughed journalists. How can you make your message land and cut through in this complex and ever-changing environment?

All is not lost. News outlets need to show balance and there is a greater opportunity for appropriate PR content to cut through to meet the needs of time-poor journalists.

Here is the Speed top ten to getting some exposure for your business:

1. News you can use

Most of the news is bad news. PR content in the form of ‘news you can use’ that delivers information or provides hope, is necessary to achieve balance in a publication. You can’t fill a whole newspaper with Coronavirus content. Think carefully about what your brand or business point of view can be. How can you deliver an uplifting story? Do you have a story on outstanding endeavour? Be careful of anything that could feel flippant or inappropriate in the current climate.

2. Make it easy

Journalists don’t have time to wade through press releases to create something ready to publish. Create copy-ready content that mimics the style of the publication you want to secure coverage in. If necessary create a tabloid and broadsheet version and consider tight and relevant brand messages only. Copy ready means prioritising messages and quotes that add to the story.

3. Think multi-channel

News is more real-time than ever before because world events are moving so fast. By the time print appears it’s out of date. Make this work for your brand by thinking multi-channel and create layered assets with video and imagery to bring your story to life. Online coverage also generates additional SEO benefits and a potential for links to your website so think about the customer journey. Where do you want the coverage to link too and what’s the added value for the reader when they get there?

4. Work that little black book

Now more than ever relationships matter. Rather than a ‘push’ approach where you create an angle and push it out far and wide consider a ‘pull’. Speak to your core contacts and find out how you can help and co-create something bespoke. Media are so busy they won’t read emails from people they don’t know so laser targeting is very important.

5. Move quickly

With a constantly moving news agenda it is important to move quickly. Move as fast as you can from idea conception to content delivery to maximise your chances of success. In a lot of cases getting coverage is about being the first to meet journalist need. Unless you can work a relationship, see previous point.

6. Use your experts

Media are hungry for insight and a fresh take on an overreported issue. Consider the experts you have in the business and what they can add. Think outside the box. Your new spokespeople are those that can bring something new to the table, not necessarily those who normally take the role. Content on how businesses and brands are pivoting their offer is incredibly popular and the people involved in this might serve as a new voice for the media. Media training can be delivered virtually to make sure spokespeople feel confident and prepared.

7. Don’t ignore broadcast

Now you’ve identified your spokespeople don’t forgot to use them with broadcast media. All indications are that viewer and listener figures are breaking records. For reaching a mass audience there is no better route. Broadcast is almost entirely devoted to coverage of coronavirus so this is where bringing something relevant and new to the table is critical.

8. Be agile

You’ve read all these tips, identified your content and are ready to go. Then another brand beats you to it. Don’t give up. Identify a raft of potential angles, prioritise those with a short shelf life and build a content pipeline. That way you will always have the next opportunity to move onto.

9. Amplify your coverage

After years of scepticism all current consumer data suggests that trust in the media is rising sharply. Coverage therefore offers more value because it carries increased editorial prestige. Share your coverage externally and internally. Post on your social channels, communicate with your staff and use to deliver credibility for your business or brand.

10. Nuture relationships for the future

Thank journalists for coverage and show appreciation. They will have felt the impact of furlough and remote working as much as any other business so the human touch will go a long way. Once a piece of coverage runs consider how you can help again. The best media relationships are those that are two-way and where the journalists see you as a first point of reference to shortcut to the best results.

Tags: Covid-19journalismpr coverage