PR & thought leadership

How to adapt your PR strategy to break through today’s news

Anya Khalamayzer | June 8, 2020

Photo by Marcus Winkler/Unsplash

As COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter protests continue to grip the media, it’s wise to temper expectations about PR results. But it’s still possible to break through and land media placements, even if your news isn’t about the current situation.

Here are some tips for staying relevant, mostly drawn from the ways we’re adapting our PR strategies to help our social enterprise clients.

Read key publications more closely

It’s more important than ever to stay on top of outlets you want to appear in. Internalize what they’re covering and how, and pay attention to how they’re adjusting their coverage so you can come up with story angles that will interest them now. Track reporters, too, since many are working new beats—such as business reporters covering impact investing—which may give you an opportunity to connect with new writers. (And don’t forget to reconnect with journalists you know.)

Embrace your niche

Entire industries are looking for guidance through these turbulent times. That means trade publications are seeking articles about how companies are responding to the pandemic. To take advantage of this, mine your leaders’ perspectives on the changes and challenges they’re seeing, how they’re adapting and so on—the PR blog Spin Sucks offers a few approaches. Your team could be sitting on valuable insights that would be perfect for a bylined article or could merit coverage.

Amplify the good news

Reporters are experiencing coronavirus fatigue and want to write about something besides the pandemic. Readers, too, are hungry for stories about what’s working—which is good news for organizations providing solutions. Are you working on new projects to help your industry or communities overcome the health or financial crises? Have you pivoted or scaled your business to make greater impact? Your innovations may be newsworthy.

If your enterprise is about solutions for climate change or creating a just society, you have an advantage, since those issues are becoming even more critical against the backdrop of today’s main news themes. After the pandemic lifts and protests effect policy change, you’ll be well positioned: we’ll likely see a vastly changed media landscape and renewed interest in social and environmental issues.

Get social (virtually)

Keeping a presence on social platforms and participating in those conversations is more important now that physical gatherings are a thing of the past. And many journalists check out a source’s social media feeds before deciding whether to interview them. Beyond using Twitter, expand executives’ use of LinkedIn and your Medium publication to share their thinking through “open letter”-style posts. Create a relatable dialogue by being real about what’s going on at your company, airing your frustrations (but not complaints!) and sharing stories about how you’re helping employees or clients. Using your voice on social media will help you connect to community and increase your chances of being noticed by the media or earning bylines in news outlets.

Finally, check yourself. It’s critical to ask for a second look at anything you post or share.  You don’t want to appear tone deaf or come off like you’re trying to profit from the crisis. You should be speaking out, but make sure you focus on the work you’re doing and how you’re creating value in the world.

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