PR Takeaways for the COVID-19 Era
In today’s world, pajamas are the new pantsuit, couches and kitchen tables have replaced the once underappreciated desk and our pets and children have become our new “coworkers.” For journalists, the pandemic has turned their worlds upside down – causing many to face the challenge of keeping up with the day-to-day duties of their typical beats while also making sure their readers and viewers are informed about the latest pandemic updates.
So, where does that leave the current media ecosystem? According to Cision’s 2020 State of the Media report, the challenges journalists are currently facing didn’t originate along with COVID-19. Rather, many of these roadblocks have been present for the past year or more and are being exacerbated by the current pandemic.
For YOU – the marketing and PR teams tasked with making valuable media connections and securing much-needed awareness and coverage for your clients – that means doubling down on practices you may already have started. It’s time to become in tune with what journalists are currently facing and employ these practical steps:
Ready, Aim, Pitch!
Just because email is the preferred method of PR outreach among journalists does not mean they welcome every mass-distributed pitch with open arms. Even if your pitch contains interesting and newsworthy information, it can easily get lost in a reporter’s crowded inbox if the appropriate research and targeting is not conducted beforehand. To ensure future pitches do not “miss the mark” and float to the bottom of the pile, industry professionals should abide by journalists’ current pitching preferences:
- Do your research – make sure you’re not sending pitches to people who will likely not write a story on the topic
- Keep pitches short and simple
- Make sure your pitch answers the question “why should the journalist care?”
- Offer experts to share more insights
- Only follow up once
Help Them Help You
While you may not be able to take a glimpse at a journalist’s Outlook calendar, keeping abreast of current events dominating the news cycle – including the rate of stories coming from key publications and journalists – can help you make an educated guess on whether or not it makes sense to pitch your client’s content at that particular time. A lack of resources and staff also influence a reporter’s workload. In fact, the Cision report noted that 22% of its survey respondents identified lack of resources and staff as the biggest industry challenge for journalists over the last 12 months. Many also reported filing more than ten pieces per week, pre-pandemic.
Make your pitch targeted by researching the journalist you wish to connect with. Does his or her beat line up with the content you provided? What has he/she written about recently? If the reporter is only focusing on COVID-19 content, a pitch about the latest consumer product launch is probably not timely or even helpful. This exercise can help identify the areas where you may need to bolster your current pitching strategy – remember, helping journalists can help you earn a major win for your clients.
Timing is Everything
Have you ever tried to get a pitch across the day of a product or campaign launch and received little or delayed coverage as a result? It could be time to consider adjusting your distribution timeline based on how far in advance journalists plan their stories – or when they’re most likely to see your email pitch. According to the Cision report, while 36% of journalists plan their stories daily or more frequently a total of 42% work a month in advance.
Additionally, regarding when to pitch, remember to take the day of the week into consideration. Despite Monday morning being the most preferred day and time for reporters to receive a pitch, it is also when journalists are bombarded with messages in their inboxes. It may come as a surprise that many reporters said they were still open to receiving pitches on Fridays – even some on Saturday and Sunday. By avoiding pitching on Mondays, you may increase the likelihood of your target audiences seeing, reading and responding to your content.
An effective media relations campaign requires the right strategy – especially during a global pandemic. However, these tips should not solely be applied during the era of COVID-19. These practical steps offer important considerations for future campaigns, helping to build stronger relationships with your targeted media contacts.
At Largemouth, we’re like the Bumble BFF of the PR world – let us connect your organization with those target media audiences and generate the exposure you’ve been dreaming about. If your organization finds itself in need of additional time and resources to deliver on its next media relations campaign, please don’t hesitate to reach out and connect with our team.