COVID-19 is dominating all conversations. Like me, I’m sure most people are lucky if they make it a full hour without talking or reading about COVID-19.
Though my PR career isn’t decades long, I can’t think of another time when something has so clearly dominated the news and for such a long time – with no end in sight. Additionally, because the situation is constantly evolving and varies largely by country, county or even city, there is always new information to report.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve assisted with building several new press lists for organizations in different industries, targeting very different sets of reporters, yet nearly every single reporter I looked at had covered COVID-19 in some capacity.
So, it’s left me and my colleagues wondering: What does this mean for all other news and activity? Do we halt other activity? Will other news even be heard?
In one of our virtual team meetings this week, we discussed this topic and how to best navigate it on behalf of our clients. Below is an overview of our PR approach during this unprecedented time.
Evaluate Each Announcement and Pitch
It is important to evaluate each pitch and announcement on a case-by-case basis. For example, when there is an announcement that’s been in the works for weeks, maybe even months, it likely doesn’t make sense to hold the story. Chances are, it’s a bigger business move that can’t go on hold for an indefinite amount of time. In that case, it probably makes sense to distribute the announcement, just know it may not have the results you were initially planning on securing.
With proactive pitches, it may be the time to hold. With proactive pitches, we’re often trying to spark a particular conversation in the news, shed light on a new trend, or share our clients’ expert opinion or unique perspective on a popular topic. Currently, the only topic making headlines is COVID-19. Developing and distributing a proactive pitch that doesn’t relate to COVID-19 in some capacity would likely make little to no impact.
With announcements that you can’t push, recognize that it may not have the same impact or secure the same amount of coverage it would have three weeks ago. It’s important to have conversations with all involved that set expectations around what is realistic given the current climate. We’re in uncharted territory. While I would venture to guess that traditional news and stories unrelated to COVID-19 are not going to have much of an impact, maybe some reporters are looking for a welcomed break.
Look to the Future
While the future looks somewhat bleak and there appears to be no end in sight, there will be an end to COVID-19. Begin to think of creative ways to weave messages from announcements that will be overshadowed by the current news cycle into future activity, such as proactive pitches, bylines or blogs. Consider how you can leverage it in a larger story arc or future campaign.
These are uncertain and unprecedented times for everyone. All we can do is our best and take it day by day. Stay safe and wash your hands!Tags: coronavirus, COVID-19, Media, News, News Cycle