Flying back from Atlanta yesterday, I purchased and attempted to read through the September issue of WIRED magazine.
Talk about “57 Channels and Nothin’ On”. I’ve been in the business for more than three decades now and I still had to struggle to figure out where the editorial started and the advertising ended. And when all was said and done, the advertising was more interesting and more informative than most of the editorial.
Once upon a time in America, news actually had value. Now everything is pitched as news. A tweet of Anthony Weiner’s wiener is news. And the real news is so sensationalized and overhyped, it appears to be a farce. As I watched Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel last night hunkered at the intersection of Hurricane Isaac and Cheap Ratings Avenue, I couldn’t help but wonder when the world became so… patronized?
It’s probably just me. I know many people (mostly my age) who live for their daily newspaper and their nightly TV news. And I know an equal number of people (mostly not my age) who salivate with each news alert that appears on their iPhone and each new Tweet they receive.
But for my taste, it mostly all sucks.
I am ever so grateful to those handful of news resources that continue to fight the good fight. People like Charlie Rose on PBS who actually understand what a newsworthy story is (even when it is an entertainment story) and deliver it in an engaging format. Magazines like Fast Company that provide meaningful and interesting insight in a well-designed publication. And even shows like ABC Nightline that at least attempt to deliver real news in a professional and entertaining manner.
I guess the only good news (pun intended) is that when news is finally taken off of life support and allowed to take its last breath, we won’t know, since no one will be there to report it.
Pitching a new or existing product, company spokesperson or useful tips are all successful ways to secure media coverage for your brand year-round.
But there is one strategy you can use to secure immediate media attention-it just requires vigilance and a bit of strategic thinking. You can successfully secure widely read and relevant media coverage by piggybacking your company’s story with a breaking news event. Below is a step-by-step approach for taking advantage of timely current events to secure immediate visibility.
1. Lay the groundwork. Start by setting up news monitoring alerts for key terms that impact your business, industry or customers. Monitor these incoming news alerts daily. When a big event occurs, you will know about it immediately.
2. Target the right media. Now that you know what they are writing about, find out who is writing it. When it comes to national and impactful news, reporters often write follow up stories expanding their initial coverage of an event or news item. Add these reporters to your media list, and be sure to develop a very targeted and personalized introduction as to why you are pitching your story to them specifically.
Secondarily, find out what beat these reporters typically cover and use that information to identify media at other publications that will likely be interested in your story. For example, if environment reporters are covering the breaking news story at a few key outlets, make sure environment reporters from all relevant outlets are on your media list.
3. Provide a new spin. Do not follow up on a breaking news item pitching the same exact story; you will be a day late and a dollar short. The key here is to find a new angle to the story that will entice reporters to develop a follow up story. Examples include: pitch a potential solution to the new problem, play devil’s advocate by warning of hidden dangers, provide insight on how the news item impacts a certain group of people or vital segment of industry, showcase the positive outcomes of a negative situation or vice versa, etc.
4. Provide an expert. Once you decide on your approach, position a company spokesperson as an expert who can speak to media on this topic as part of your pitch. Ensure they are knowledgeable and entertaining. Media will be on the lookout for interesting sound bites and inspirational – or controversial – statements and insight surrounding the situation.
5. Make the connection to your brand. Ensure your pitch provides a direct connection for media as to why your brand or product is an essential part of this story. Perhaps your product provides a necessary solution, or maybe your company has done business in the impacted industry for years. Or your company experienced something similar before, and you understand how consumers will react. Just be sure to clearly state the connection to validate why your company is a good resource for a follow up story.
6. Conduct follow up. Media will have already covered the breaking news item by the time your pitch reaches them. It is key to conduct media follow up calls. Your goal is to help media understand why this new angle, expert or product is a critical component of the evolving story. Ultimately, if you can secure coverage for your brand related directly to timely, breaking news, it will be more relevant and interesting to consumers already engaged in the story.
Need help launching a reactive publicity and media relations campaign? Contact me at kayleigh (at) sweeneypr (dot) com or 440.333.0001 ext. 105.