Those of us who have chosen a career path in the PR industry have become very familiar with the 24 hour news cycle which refers to the 24-hour reporting of news, associated with the fast-paced lifestyle of today’s connected society.
The enormous amount of news resources available has increased competition for audience and advertiser attention, prompting media outlets to deliver the latest news in the most captivating manner in order to remain ahead of competitors. This includes television, radio, print, online, and now mobile apps which have been designed for news.
But with today’s 24 hour news cycle, how can you, as a PR professional, keep your client front and center when a news cycle hits? That seems to be the $1,000,000 question these days. Here are a few simple things that PR professionals can do on a daily basis to better prepare ourselves to insert clients into a breaking news cycle:
1. Make a List and Check it Twice
First and foremost, as a PR agency, it is our responsibility to keep our top-tier business and industry media lists up-to-date at all times. With a 24 hour news cycle, this is of the utmost importance these days. You never know when the next big news story is going to break, and you don’t want to spend the bulk of your time trying to figure out who you should be contacting. These lists need to be updated regularly or you’ll risk missing out on a potentially great opportunity for client coverage.
2. Television and Print and Online…Oh My!
With potential media hits on television, in print and online, you need to know what is going on in the news at all times. Not only should you start each day reviewing breaking and trending news stories, you should keep one eye on the news throughout the day. As PR professionals, we should always be looking for opportunities to inject our clients into the conversations that are taking place. New stories break throughout the day, and if you can identify breaking news that provides your clients with opportunities for coverage, you’ll continue to score points.
3. There’s a Newsjacking in Progress
A term that you’ll hear frequently at PR agencies looking to successfully insert their client into the news cycle is “newsjacking”. Newsjacking is a strategy that I’m sure we’ve all used which entails the promotion of a client through breaking news. If done creatively and successfully, newsjacking provides an opportunity to launch your client into the national spotlight. The challenge that we as PR professionals have is making our pitch stand out among competing companies as the breaking news story grows. As a PR professional, you need to be thinking ahead. Have a few pre-packaged pitches put aside on a few different topics so when a news cycle is developing, you can have your subject matter expert ready to chime in with valuable perspective.
4. Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Just because a news cycle ends, doesn’t mean that your work as a PR professional is over. After a specific story dies down, don’t be afraid to follow up with the journalists that you’ve been working with. See if there is an opportunity for a follow up story. Offer up a company profile, an executive Q&A or an in-depth examination of a product or service. It doesn’t hurt to just check in with the journalist on what trends are on their radar. You never know where your next opportunity may lie. You’ve helped them once, why not go back for seconds?
5. Reading, Willing and Able
Sometimes, locking down a source during a breaking news cycle can be nearly impossible. As PR professionals, we need to know who can speak on what topic and when they are available. Sounds tough, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. For each of your clients, you should have at least three to four designated spokespeople who have been media trained in case your top choice is unavailable. At the same time, you should be sure that you have their headshots and corporate biographies ahead of time in case they are requested by a journalist on a moment’s notice. If you know that a heavy news week is coming, or already in progress, proactively reach out for their availability ahead of time. You’ll be happy you did this.
6. Respond to HARO’s and ProfNet’s
Finally, there are a lot of resources out there that have been created to benefit the PR industry. Two of my favorites are ProfNet and Help a Reporter Out (HARO), both of which are great resources for finding out what journalists are working on, especially during a news cycle. I can say from personal experience that I’ve had great success using both services. Not only do ProfNet and HARO provide great opportunities to land an interview with a specific journalist, sometimes an inquiry can lead you to a news cycle that has either just broken, or is about to break. In a way, they can alert you to a specific story that you might not have been aware of before.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any other key tips? How have YOU inserted your client into a breaking news cycle? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.