Matter Chatter

Beating the buzzer: Capitalizing on breaking news

A good chunk of a PR pro’s day consists of finding creative ways to get a client’s story out there. Obtaining killer press coverage without a steady stream of company news is one of the biggest – and most exciting – challenges we face. But every-so-often, things just happen. All of a sudden you’re not creating the news, you’re typing and dialing like a mad-person reacting to it.

It’s not crisis communications, but the flurry you suddenly find yourself in leaves you feeling similarly. Here’s some advice on making your efforts count:

  • Remember to breathe: We work in a dynamic industry and sometimes that leaves us feeling like everything is urgent. Try to remind yourself that even though you’re reacting to breaking news, it’s important not to rush an announcement or an angle. Take the time to get it right. The results will be far more cohesive.
  • Pick a spokesperson: When in the trenches of this type of pitching, things happen fast. Journalists are looking to pump out stories same-day and want to speak with your expert ASAP. Scheduling can be a bit of a mess. Be sure to pick one spokesperson and discuss the best process for getting a hold of them when opportunities arise. Do they want to be emailed, called, texted or telegrammed? Do they prefer to dial the journalist directly, or have you hosting on a conference line? Should you just skip them entirely and go directly to their assistant? Lay out the process ahead of time so there’s no room for confusion and tedious back and forth.
  • News scan: While you should absolutely be opening up your existing press list and zipping the story off to your media besties, breaking news is the perfect time to make some new friends. Fire up Google News, see who’s covered the topic – or something relevant to it – in the past and pitch them! They’ll likely already be working on a story and as such open and responsive to new thought leader commentary. And the best part? They’ll remember that you’re good on the fly and reach back out for future stories.

Have any reactionary PR tales to share? Tell us the good, the bad and the ugly on Twitter!