One of the things I love about working at a PR agency is no client is ever the same. There are always new challenges, new pitches and new strategies to be deployed. Though our clients often have products to be launched and reviews to be secured, recently I’ve had the pleasure of working on an account in which our team must rely on the expertise of the company’s executives for pitch fodder. We’ve had some fun and learned some lessons along the way, especially when it comes to responding to breaking news. Recognizing the valuable opportunity breaking news presents for us to mobilize the company’s very-willing executives to comment on relevant topics, our team identified strategies that work well for both our client and reporters.
Of course, with breaking news, there’s really no time to waste and fast action from PR pros (and clients!) is essential. Here are a few additional strategies that have worked really well for our team:
Anticipate the news: Sometimes I think it would be nice to be able to read minds and forsee news. While I don’t have superhero powers, by persistently scouring news outlets and trade publications, it’s not too difficult to identify soon-to-be hot topics and upcoming announcements that are just the right fit for a clients. When you have an idea of what’s coming down the pipe, it’s so much easier to anticipate what reporters will be writing about and to pitch them valuable insights from your client or to provide them with an unexpected angle.
Develop colorful quotes from a company executive: Once you have an idea of what tomorrow’s news will be today, touch base with your client to ask him/her for some insight on the topic and to explain how consumers (or other audiences) may be affected. With your client’s help, you can develop dynamic, attention-grabbing quotes to share with your media contacts. Make sure the quotes are short, interesting and could translate effortlessly into a news story. This will help you secure an interview for your client. Alternatively, a reporter on a short deadline (we’re talking about breaking news after all!) may be able to quickly insert one or more of the pre-written quotes into an article.
Respond to reporters who already published articles on the topic: Let’s face it, we can’t always anticipate the news or connect with a reporter before he/she has published an article. It never hurts to follow up with reporters who have already covered the breaking news. Perhaps they’re working on a follow-up story or can direct you to a colleague who is developing a different angle and needs expert input.
Tune into Twitter (and other social media): When it comes to breaking news, it’s not uncommon for an outlet or reporter to post a quick news update on Twitter with a note that the full story is to come. It’s a great day indeed for PR pros when this happens, as it makes it even easier to target pitches and focus outreach efforts.
Surely there are many approaches to PR efforts surrounding breaking news (here are similar but more detailed tips); the above are just a few short and sweet ones that have worked well for us. We’d love to hear your tips, too! What’s worked well and what hasn’t? Please feel free to share.