How to create news, when there is no news

By David Landis, CEO and President

A public relations professional’s job is a whole lot easier when your business or client has news. But unfortunately, that doesn’t happen all the time. So, what can an organization do to keep its brand top of mind when there’s no news? Here are three tricks of the trade.

I’m not talking about market research surveys. Surveys used to create news are a different animal entirely. You can start by thinking, “What’s the headline I’d like to generate?” Then, create a survey that will elicit an eye-popping consumer response.

For example, I once worked with a company focused on brain health. In a survey, they asked the general public, “Would you be willing to participate in a clinical trial?” Surprisingly, an overwhelming majority said that they were reticent to do so for a variety of reasons.

That provided a great headline for us and, as a bonus, it was an opportunity to speak about the client and how they are helping solve that issue.

These days, technology can assist, with affordable online tools, such as Survey Monkey, that make survey creation a breeze. Once you have the results of the survey, you need to analyze the data to find the kernel that is newsworthy. Then, promote that to the general media, and leverage through social as well.

There’s a lot of talk these days about how businesses can “newsjack” current events to become part of a prevailing media conversation for their own benefit. What exactly is “newsjacking?” It’s the act of leveraging current news so your client or business is included in the ongoing conversation.

I recently engineered a successful newsjack that I think makes for a great example. In the lead up to National Nurses Week, my team and I approached a local nurse at our client’s hospital. She regularly knits caps for the newborns there. Knowing that royal baby Archie’s birth would likely coincide with National Nurses Week, we asked her to knit baby “crowns” for local kids who would be born on the same day as the new royal. On the day Archie was born, we crowned the new babies and alerted the media that we had “royal” babies of our own.

What makes for a good newsjack? Here are a few tips to ensure success:

  • Plan upfront

You can’t make it happen if you don’t have a plan of action before the news hits. Think of various news scenarios that might affect your business in advance so that you can be creative and prepared. Share your ideas with other staff members (or your client) so that everyone is on board in advance.

  • Act fast

While it’s nice to have time to prepare, great newsjacking can still happen spur of the moment. To take advantage of the regular news cycle, you have to be at the ready.

  • Understand how newsjacking can help

It helps to have businesses that already know and understand the value of the newsjack. Make sure your clients know that they need to be ready to provide any needed assets at a moment’s notice.

  • Spread the news wide and fast

When one outlet calls, more are likely to follow. Respond to requests from all the national news and entertainment organizations that contact you.

The gimmick
Believe it or not, gimmicks still work. What am I talking about? Think visuals and photo opportunities. For example, I once had to promote a series called “POPS,” but there weren’t any big names to feature. I gathered local celebrities and staged a champagne cork-popping contest. The celebrity whose cork flew the farthest won the competition. The media responded in spades.

So, don’t fret. If you or your organization has news, promote it like crazy. But if you don’t, be creative, and figure out a way to become the news.

7 thoughts on “How to create news, when there is no news

  1. I do love the made-up holidays – we used a few cookie related holidays for clients as I recall – National Dunk a Cookie Day!

  2. Newsjacking is one of my favorite ways to take advantage of the current news cycle for your client’s benefit. In fact, I’m planning to attempt more of it in 2020 – that’s one of my New Year’s resolutions.

    – David C.

  3. Thanks David for this posting! As a newbie to Landis, I’m wowed daily by the ideas generated among staff and the ongoing opportunities to place our clients in a positive light. But sometimes it’s challenging to create news (in between announcements). However, these are very practical yet creative suggestions for making news — instead of just waiting for the next milestone or success story to surface. Here’s to opportunistic PR – a newsjacker’s delight!.

  4. These are great recommendations, David. You would think that in today’s world, where so many people and things get attention for no discernable reason, it would be easy to help your clients make news. But it’s an art as much as a science!

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