2020: The Year of Big News

BY Sabiha Nur

July 17, 2020

Public Relations

Amid a global pandemic and a much-needed awakening about systemic racism in our country, this year has been dominated by huge stories.

For those of us in the PR industry, it’s become increasingly difficult to pitch stories to reporters whose editors are focused on COVID-19, the global recession and the Black Lives Matter movement. We must keep a pulse on what’s going on in the world, locally and nationally – finding ways to not only insert our clients into current events but also find creative ways to pitch their unique stories, initiatives and announcements. With big news stories flooding the airways everyday our jobs are more challenging – but with every passing day we find innovative solutions to make our way through the noise.

For some of us this has meant a shift towards trade-focused, niche publications and targets that often went under the radar but are valuable to our clients. With traditional media focusing on the “big stories,” our media strategies for clients are focusing more on contributed content opportunities, podcasts, newsletter mentions, and blog mentions among others. These channels are also very shareable and social media friendly outlets – which goes a long way in the digital age.

Another thing we are keeping  in mind is the need for uplifting, happy, positive stories in the media to give readers a break from the stress of the concentrated, heavy everyday news coverage (remember the penguins touring the Shedd Aquarium). This is an opportunity to reconnect with our network of local and national journalists who are also looking for heartfelt, personal stories and anecdotes to share with their readers.

Newsrooms are also making financial cuts; reporters are put on furlough, and the remaining reporters are covering more beats and more news at a faster pace. This change in the media industry has impacted the way we pitch. Reporters are looking for more complete and thorough pitches with visual and video assets provided. By presenting reporters with all the necessary information and visuals in the preliminary pitch, we have placed stories for our clients without any further inquiry from the reporters.

We are also checking in with our local and national reporter contacts to ask what their needs are at this time. Many are looking for subject matter experts and commentators who can speak to relevant topics related to COVID-19 and ongoing civil unrest. We keep a pulse on the local and community narratives that come from these larger stories – including the economic impact of the novel coronavirus, stimulus checks, racial inequity in our prison systems and our city’s response to all of the above. We adapt and position our clients and thought leaders to engage in these conversations. This means repurposing what our thought leaders can speak to, crafting messages that are relevant and pitching them as experts who can relay unique perspectives and useful information to the public.

The PR world is transforming along with the media landscape. We all have to stay on our toes, think creatively and sharpen our tactics for our clients.

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BY Sabiha Nur

July 17, 2020

Public Relations