By Shayna Chapel of The Castle Group, our Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) partner in Boston, Massachusetts
The media moves at lightning speed, especially in today’s environment when a story breaks every half hour. This means it’s challenging at times to reach out to media with stories that won’t make the front page.
But what happens when you don’t have any hard news to share? PR professionals are often faced with this challenge when working with professional services organizations. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by some of the brightest minds in the consulting or financial industries, but we sometimes find ourselves up against the black hole of news – an absence of traditional hard news.
Instead, we can find alternative ways to get our clients in the media by talking about their organization and by sharing their expertise.
As we learned from Media Relations 101 – The Persistent Publicist, we don’t always need to reach out to reporters with a pitch. Perhaps it’s complimenting a recent byline or even suggesting they have coffee with your client. These introductory meetings are an opportunity for your client to build a rapport with the reporter and to showcase his/her expertise and perspective. The media typically enjoy these conversations and might even add your client to their expert resource list for future stories. The next time they need someone to comment on the latest breaking news, your phone might start ringing!
When there’s a breaking news alert, you’re in luck if your client is an expert on the topic and has a unique perspective. Be sure to pitch swiftly to ensure your client is the first expert to reach the reporter’s inbox. A great way to be sure a client is queued up to speak on a topic is, of course, to be a news hound! Read, learn what’s being discussed and figure out what the “day two” or “week two” stories will be. Talk with your client ASAP to get their perspective on the topic and their interest in commenting. Before pitching, make sure your client is available to speak with media so you’re not wasting a reporter’s precious time to meet his/her deadline.
Digging Deeper – Story Mining
Take the time to ask questions. Learn about your client’s company culture, community engagement, company experts or philanthropic initiatives. There might be new media opportunities to uncover that are beyond your traditional media relations program.
When there isn’t breaking news relevant to your client’s area of expertise, proactively pitch your client and his/her subject matter to industry trades. These publications are often looking for contributed content and can present an opportunity to help thoughtfully craft a byline on behalf of your client and amplify their key organizational messages to target audiences.
Leveraging What’s Next
Whether it’s the release of a study on consumer shopping habits or M&A activity driven by industry changes, your client might have a unique perspective to share with media on trends impacting their industry.
While commenting on these trends requires fast action (see Expert Pitching above), integrating fixed calendar events into your annual PR program ensures that your client’s expertise is shared across multiple channels at different times throughout the year. When are the major events, reports, occasions in your industry? Build them into your editorial calendar so you can develop a media strategy well in advance.
Being a strong communicator not only means amplifying your client’s news, but also means thinking about creative ways to put the spotlight on a person and/or organization with the projects and successes that are already on the table. Do your research, ask questions and think beyond the press release.
How do you create coverage for your clients? Tell us by tweeting at @LandisComm or commenting below.
4 thoughts on “How to Gain Coverage in the Absence of Breaking News”
Thanks for all the useful tips, Shayna. I’ve learned that one of the best ways to generate coverage is by introducing certain clients as subject matter experts to media. Most reporters (especially those covering finance, law and health care) are always in search of expert sources, so this easily becomes a win-win situation.
Shayna – great blog post. You’re right, there isn’t always a lot of news for a client and sometimes you have to think creatively. I like the idea of using data-driven reports that align with your client to release industry news. One of the best ways is to sponsor a survey that highlights a current trend or newsworthy topic related to one’s client. Many thanks for the well-written contribution to our blog this week. Cheers, David
Shayna, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. It’s something that all PR pros struggle with at some point in their career. This is when we have to think creatively and find a new angle to pitch for our clients!
Shayna, this is always a relevant topic for PR pros. Thank you for the great reminders. I think a good old fashion brainstorm with non-team members is another way to generate fresh story ideas. I’m a big fan of expert cards and trend stories, too.
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