Sometimes there are news events that can shake an entire nation. As a bi-coastal PR agency, RH is always ready to position a client or develop a statement on breaking news at a moment’s notice across four time zones. Because of the significant variability of our work, we have learned that it is best to prepare our clients for the best and worst media opportunities before they happen.
For some clients, we implement “newsjacking,” a reactive media relations strategy that aims to insert our clients into national and trade news when applicable, pitching popular story topics from new and insightful angles. This tactic takes diligent news monitoring, a deep understanding of client expertise within its industry and nimble responses to media opportunities. In our modern age of citizen journalism via social media and a 24-hour news cycle, a wise PR pro must be prepared to drop everything and pitch immediately. It is easy to miss participating in a big story by mere hours.
Recently, one of our clients was able to comment on a breaking national news story and, as a result, gained newfound media credibility. We have compiled a few best practices to ensure success during a rapid-response news cycle, and some lessons-learned we plan to implement next time.
- Prepare top tier media lists for print and broadcast outlets ahead of time. It is a marketing department or PR agency’s responsibility to keep general top-tier media lists ready for action. Stick with assignment editors and managing editors at print outlets, and producers, general managers, directors and senior editors at broadcast outlets. These lists should be updated regularly.
- Make sure media contact information can be easily found on your website. With no exception, all corporate websites should have a media contact listed in their “Contact Us” section. Ideally – along with an individual’s name and contact information – a reporter should have access to an email address that reaches multiple people. This way the public relations team has the best chance of fielding a media inquiry as soon as possible.
- Post media assets to your corporate webpage. Background materials easily found on a corporate website can help inform reporters more about your company and what expertise it can lend them. Having videos of product demos, department tours, or spokespeople could make for interesting b-roll in a broadcast segment. A whitepaper or congressional testimony could demonstrate thought leadership and provide helpful context that could add depth to a news piece.
- Utilize contacts made during breaking news for follow-up stories. After the news cycle on a specific story dies down, don’t be afraid to follow up with the contacts you’ve made. Offer a company profile, an in-depth examination of a product or service, or even just check in with the reporter on what trends they have found interesting lately.
- Have a “bench” of spokespeople ready. Aim to have five designated spokespeople at your company and train all of them in case your top choice is unavailable. Collect their headshots and bios ahead of time in case you need to hand them off to a reporter. If you know this will be a heavy news week, collect all spokespeople’s availability ahead of time.
- Maintain a Twitter feed. The news cycle operates at a very quick pace. When news is breaking, sometimes the most reliable way to quickly reach audiences or learn about the latest updates on a story can be found on a company’s Twitter page. Twitter can be especially helpful in clearing up a communication issue during a crisis.
Colin Powell once said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” At RH Strategic, we pride ourselves on thoughtful public relations strategy and dedication to seeing client success in the media. We hope our tips can help make your next media relations initiative a success!