Group Gordon’s Hillary Wasserman writes about making today’s frenzied news cycle work for you.
These days, the news feels like the 2018 edition of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” There’s so much happening all at once that it feels impossible just to keep up, much less attempt to insert your news into the frenzied conversation. It’s hard to imagine a journalist covering a company or organization’s big announcement when Michael Cohen’s plea deal is getting wall-to-wall media coverage.
The challenge may feel insurmountable, but it’s still possible to cut through the noise. Below are a couple of ways to make the news cycle work for you.
Use the news
If at first glance your news seems unrelated to the big stories of the day, it’s worth taking a closer look at ways to connect what you’re doing to the broader dialogue. Does a new service help a community affected by policy decisions? Do the findings of a report uncover issues not addressed by a new law that’s dominating headlines? Connecting your message to the narrative playing out in the news can get the attention of journalists and potentially introduce them to a new angle on a story they’re already interested in.
The nature of news is that anything can happen at any time, and if something urgent develops, your announcement may become lower priority. That’s holds true for television appearances, print stories, or online pieces. You can navigate this unknown by staying flexible. For example, if the reporter you’re working with on an exclusive gets pulled onto something time-sensitive, consider pushing back the embargo date to allow him or her to revisit your story when the breaking news has passed. If reporters are less responsive because of a news deluge, try new and creative tactics to reach them, such as responding to their tweets about a story connected to your news.
We once booked a client to release a report on a prime broadcast segment. He was on set, ready to go – until breaking news about a hostage situation hijacked his slot. We couldn’t compete then, but we stayed on top of news hooks that would make sense for the client to insert his insight. A few weeks later, after a major company was hacked, our client was on that same network providing his take. It’s essential to identify the best time to insert yourself into the media and stay ready to jump into the fray at a moment’s notice.
It seems unlikely – at least in the near term – that we’ll return to a simpler time with a more manageable news cycle. Given that this is the new norm, we public relations practitioners need to adjust our strategies to make the most of the current news environment. So, examine the news through the lens of your clients, find ways to fit your client’s news or expertise to the narratives dominating the day, and try to go with the flow. We can’t promise you’ll get as much attention as a Trump tweet, but you have to walk before you can run!