By Daniel Johnson-Kim
Undoubtedly, the breaking news section of every major publication has been dedicated to coronavirus, Black Lives Matter protests and the current political landscape. And rightly so.
However, amidst all the craziness and sadness in our world today, the need for relevant, quality content is still in high demand.
Now more than ever, journalists are looking for PR Pros to be a resource. We shouldn’t be flooding their inboxes with things that are irrelevant, possibly insensitive or that distract from their focus on the important stories they are covering. During this time of uncertainty, it is imperative that PR professionals consider any content, language or promotions that may be possible red flags when pitching story ideas. Journalists are busier than ever, and we must be a resource, not a nuisance.
How can PR Pros navigate the news world at the moment?
Having a good media list is the starting point of every campaign, but it’s more important than ever to know exactly who you are talking to during your outreach. Your ideas will only be as good as the inbox it lands in. Do not send something to someone it is not relevant to. Journalists focusing on specific topics do not need to be bothered by something that isn’t pertinent to their beat. Doing so may also damage your ability to have successful outreach with the publication or person you blindly pitched.
Our advice to PR Pros
- Ditch the phone pitch. With many people working from home these days, it’s hard to say if you’ll be able to reach the person you’re really looking for over the phone. Studies show journalists (and people in general) aren’t huge fans of talking on the phone if it’s not necessary.
- Be a human, and sound like a human. It’s OK to wish someone well if you actually mean it. It’s a hard time for a lot of people, and while many of us have to carry on business as usual, we must be sensitive to how the national lockdown has affected reporters, journalists, editors and producers for broadcast and radio — not to mention their readers and viewers.
- It’s OK to be nervous and you should take this seriously. This is a nerve-racking time and it’s necessary for you to rethink your brand’s messaging at this time. Is it imperative that you reach consumers right now? Is it more appropriate to reach your existing clientele through email marketing or is it best to address the general public as a whole? Sometimes the best offense is a good defense. Take this time to build up your defense.
- Don’t force it or “newsjack” the pandemic or any other news cycle by trying to push your story where it is unwanted or inappropriate.
- Don’t be afraid to take this time to reflect on the language you use while pitching a story. Once you find the sweet spot between casually conscious yet sensitive to the times, then you can try pitching your story. It’s a fine line and it is necessary for you to get it right because what you do can make or break the interaction you have with a journalist.
- Be sure to utilize your teammates and collaborate to find a sensitive, yet direct method for your outreach. Iron sharpens iron and it’s not a bad idea to have someone look something over before you send a pitch.
- Ask for help and seek out trusted resources and others who are tracking how to properly craft your message and outreach. We’re also here to help. Our experience dealing with both sides of the industry can help your brand figure out the right campaign and messaging that won’t get lost, be misunderstood or get negative media coverage.
72Point Inc generates earned media coverage for in-house and agency PR teams. 72Point is part of SWNS Media Group, an independent news agency that works directly with the major news desks in the United States and the UK. They have offices in San Diego, New York, Austin and London.
About the author: Daniel Johnson-Kim is Head of Media Liaison for 72Point Inc, part of the 50-year-old independent press agency SWNS Media Group. Before that he worked for more than 10 years as a journalist, editor and graphic designer for The New York Daily News, News Corp and other media organizations.