How to Secure Awesome Coverage When a Major News Story is Breaking

Getting great coverage for your clients isn’t always easy. It takes creativity, determination, and strategy.

The task becomes even more difficult when a major, global news story is breaking, and that becomes the only topic that editors are interested in.

As a PR person working with healthcare clients, it seems as though every reporter is looking to link their stories to Ebola in anyway they can. If that’s not an option for you, as it isn’t for me, here are some tips that will help ensure that your clients get the visibility they deserve.

1. Address the obvious. Attention grabbing subject lines that acknowledge the “crisis” are a must. Examples might include: “Stop reading about Ebola and read my pitch” or “Not another Ebola story idea”.

2. Utilize your “friendly” contacts. Establishing relationships with reporters and staying in touch, even when you have no news, is important. Building these relationships over time can lead to you becoming a reliable and credible resource for the reporter, and as a result, one that can reach out no matter what is going on in the world.

3. Get personal. I imagine that reporters loathe the standard “Hi, here is my press release, please speak with X and write an article.” Actually, I’m not imagining it…reporters despise emails like this. Acknowledge that you know what the reporter covers, reference the awesome article or Tweet he or she just posted, and why your client/product would be such a great fit. This can move mountains, and it is how many friendly relationships begin (see above).

4. Widen your net. You’re trying to secure coverage for your client with a health-related product in the middle of a health crisis. Avoid reaching out to general news, breaking news and main health editors. Expand your reach and try to think of unexplored avenues – what about women’s health outlets, natural health outlets (if applicable), or mommy blogs?

5. Social media is your friend. After you have flooded the inbox of the reporter who is just so perfect for this pitch and you know it deep down, so much that it hurts with 7 “just following-up” emails, it’s time to try a different route. Follow the reporter on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn, invite him or her to like your client’s product/company page on Facebook, and start following up. Plus, the limited characters will help you to avoid babbling on and on – make it short, sweet and convincing. Example: @reporter, being an annoying PR girl, bc I really want to introduce you to [product]. Know it would be a great fit. Best way to connect?

Post by Maggie Deiseroth, Strategist