When the pandemic hit in 2020, it quickly took over every single media outlet. By consequence, the biggest challenge for all PR and communication professionals during this time was learning how to traverse a media landscape that felt so chaotic and unfamiliar—and one that hasn’t seemed to settle yet. For PR pros, the question became: How do you get in front of journalists and reporters and tell a convincing narrative that supports your angle while still fitting within the current business climate?
To start, it’s important to first understand the current priorities and pressures in today’s newsrooms, which have no shortage of media fodder to work with these days. For example, from this time last year, numerous other social distresses have unfortunately emerged in addition to the coronavirus, such as the presidential election and the massive social justice movement that swept the nation. This created an even more convoluted media landscape, and as communicators, we need to adapt to breaking news and trends and position ourselves at the forefront of evolving media conversations.
Here are some of the key strategies that PR professionals should flex in order to build effective communications programs in the face of a vicious news cycle:
Keep your pitches concise and connected to the current news cycle
Staying on top of the ever-changing news cycle has made it harder for reporters to sift through pitches. To help break through the noise, keep your pitches as short and to the point as possible—and ensure they have a timely hook.
Be proactive and personal
Social media is often an underused resource filled with journalist’s life updates, recent articles and calls for sources. It can be an impactful tool to stay proactive and top of mind for your followers, as well as a great way to connect and engage with journalists and new audiences.
Remember that authenticity goes a long way
Many brands over the past year have fumbled with their responses to highly sensitive events—like the widespread calls for social justice—thereby underscoring how imperative it is for organizations to think critically about their internal and external response to contentious issues—and to be authentic and genuine when doing so. Many companies were called out for not being diverse enough, and the ones that responded by acknowledging that and explaining how they plan to improve are the ones to learn from.
As 2021 carries on, it’s important for us to adapt in stride, improving the way we work as PR professionals so that we can deliver impressive results for our clients, no matter the circumstances. As proven by the turbulent year 2020 was, the media landscape is everchanging; so too are the ways that we interact with it.