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The Fall Flurry: How to Break Through to Media

Announcing the Next BAM Book Jam with Arianna Davis

Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, we’re still finding ourselves in a global pandemic searching for a vaccine, amidst a civil movement filled with unrest (oh, and wildfires, climate change, TikTok and Facebook fiascos, unsettling unemployment numbers, evictions, etc...).

Journalists are getting pulled in from every corner to cover the latest and breaking news. We as citizens, business owners, parents, and journalists alike have shifted priorities and are honing in on the more immediate demands of our careers and families. From journalists, we’ve heard it as direct as, “Honestly we’re just trying to write content we ourselves are in need of.”

This year, the media has been hyper-focused on assigned beats (new and old) and more topics than we’ve ever seen. Companies have adjusted to moving forward with product development, launches, holiday sales, and adjusting day-to-day business operations. What's also changed is the way publicists interact with journalists, and what stories and timelines will look like for the rest of 2020. Historically, we often experienced a story turnaround from pitch, to interview, and publication within a matter of days. Now? Now we’re collaborating for weeks or even months with journalists as they find time to dedicate themselves to stories that aren’t breaking or about more pressing global and national matters.

What PR pros can do to move company news forward

  • Be patient and plan ahead: It’s not that the media is no longer interested in partnership deals, funding rounds, or product announcements. It just means it’s going to be a bit (or a lot!) longer to grab, keep, and foster their attention. This means you need to plan well in advance if there’s a hard internal deadline, or you need to reset your expectations.
  • Connect your pitch with the reporter’s immediate beat: One way to continue getting your client’s or company’s name out there is to ensure your pitches are in line with not only the reporter’s typical beat, but more specifically, their recent coverage. For example, a provider of telemedicine services can think about how to tie its offerings to lockdown and patients still getting care, instead of just the benefits of and growth within telemedicine. If you’re a logistics expert, try communicating about how the boom in e-commerce due to lockdown has impacted freight carries and warehouses.
  • Expand your reach: Also consider reaching out to journalist-adjacent writers who aren’t inundated with covering breaking news. It may also be time to further discuss the value and importance of industry trade publications, which tend to be less hamstrung by the pandemic and elections.
  • Give reporters a break: Sometimes it might be best to give your media relations campaign a slight pause and offer reporters a break. There are many other avenues to keeping your PR campaign moving forward, such as focusing on award submissions, podcasts, social media engagement, influencer campaigns, employee communications, and more.

Relationships, targeted pitching, and patience will be key as we head into another quarter of competing priorities and PR objectives. Communicating the current scene and setting realistic expectations with clients and internal stakeholders for coverage around respective news announcements and overall participation as thought leaders will be dependent on your industry, expertise, and (most importantly) an editor’s schedule.

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