In a recent episode of “The Good Wife,” media counselor Eli complained that “we just gave them their next news cycle” when his client became part of a salacious news event.
While it sometimes is hard to control the flow of information, a few strategies will help you get the most out of each news announcement:
- Tap into what’s current. If a hacker just gained access to a large volume of personal information, and you represent an Internet security firm, this is a chance to showcase your client’s expertise. Offer him as an expert source to explain how it could happen, what it means going forward, what actions could be taken to prevent this, etc. Recently, a public affairs director at UCLA learned that the U.S. Census reported a record increase in the nation’s poverty rate, so he quickly videotaped a professor commenting on the news. His client was featured in several high profile media stories.
- Feed the beast. During a long weekend or holiday period, reporters are hungry for fresh material. Give it to them. The news cycle continues even when the rest of the country is baking at the beach or carving a turkey. The 24-hour news monster is especially hungry for material when traditional or daily sources shut down or are unavailable. If you can step in and help, it’s likely you’ve made a contact who will remember you.
- Know the history. If the weekly business publication just completed a big article about real estate, they will not be interested in covering your idea about a new real estate development. Typically, the weeklies work on a four to six week planning cycle for non-breaking stories, so you will need to submit pitches nearly two months before you are hoping to see it in print.
This may seem like common sense to most public relations executives, but as my dad used to say, “There is nothing common about common sense.”