The Covid-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down and whilst things are business as usual, we all know they’re not quite the same as usual.
As such, we’ve identified a number of hurdles PRs are facing in the current climate, which are making pitching stories more challenging:
- The majority of publications are working with skeleton staff, with a number of journalists currently furloughed
- Those journalists still working have an increased workload, and are writing articles outside of their usual remit to cover the increase of health related stories and other gaps left by furloughed workers and those off with coronavirus symptoms
- As a result, it is increasingly difficult for PRs to get feedback from journalists – however reliable your regular contact usually is!
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, and PRs can still get some great coverage for clients, but persistence and thinking outside of the box is key.
We wanted to share some of our top tips on what the Mc&T team has been doing to keep delivering stellar coverage during this unprecedented time:
Usually, the best way to sell in a campaign is to hit the phones. But what do you do when the journalists’ phone is sitting in an empty office somewhere, and your contact is working from their laptop on the sofa? Get creative.
Our first tip is to be creative with the channels you use, and how you are beginning your conversations with the journalists you want to target. Journalists’ social media accounts have become more accessible to PRs, with a number of them opening up their DMs to accept story pitches and feature ideas.
Don’t be shy to slide into a journalists’ DMs if you think what you’re pitching them is relevant, and will add value to their writing.
2.Don’t forget, a journalist is a real person too
You wouldn’t just tell your friend a story without having some small talk and background conversation first, so don’t do that with a journalist either. PR is all about relationship building and this is more important than ever when you can’t get that precious time face to face or over the phone.
Pitching has to feel like a mutual transaction and by showing your genuine interest in what a journalist is talking and writing about is a great way to turn this from a one-way dialogue into more of a conversation.
Have a look at their Twitter feed and #journorequests – are they writing about anything you might be able to help with, whether it’s work related or not. It links back to the previous point about being creative – one of our Mc&Ters pitched her mum to a journalist at The Times writing about hair struggles during the coronavirus outbreak as a relationship builder and guess what – his piece ran, and he’s now another good journalist to add to our little black book of contacts.
Think about how you can build a relationship and how you can make yourself helpful to what they’re working on. Can you provide them with a case study, or factual information they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere? Can you provide relevant comments or an angle they might not have thought about to add another dimension to their feature? All of these things will help your pitch stand out and shows you really understand what is helpful and valuable to the journalist.
3.Take your client on the journey with you
As with anything in our industry, communication is everything. As clients don’t tend to deal directly with the press, they don’t always know what pitching in the current climate is like, and it’s your job to take them on the sell in journey with you.
As always, send your client regular updates outlining any conversations you’ve had with media contacts, but it’s also important to highlight to them the current media landscape and the space you’re selling into.
Once they understand the climate you’re selling in to, any challenges you’re facing and how you’re working to overcome them, this will help them to understand why coverage might take a little bit longer to land than usual and how you’re proactively tackling any issues you’re facing.
4.Be tenacious and stay positive
Lastly, but by no means least – don’t give up! Yes, it’s more challenging to secure great coverage in the current climate, but you can do it.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and sometimes coverage isn’t either. It might take a little bit longer to get feedback or for coverage to come to fruition, but stay positive that you can get the results and celebrate the small wins along the way. If you’re looking at KPIs which seem daunting, set yourself small and manageable targets along the way and make sure you’re clear on what you want to achieve each day.
There’s no I in team, so make sure you’re always getting the best out of your team members even if you’re not working sitting next to one another. Show you understand any difficulties they might be facing, and discuss how you can overcome these hurdles, so that you are all working together towards the same goal.
We hope the tips above are helpful for pitching during the current climate, but they also apply outside of the pandemic.
Always remember: building relationships are key, take a client on the journey with you, stay positive and you’ll keep achieving what you set out to!