As the world continues to navigate the rough seas of the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve all had our eyes and ears on the news. Good journalism keeps us informed and entertained during times of uncertain futures (and certain boredom). The news cycle hasn’t skipped a beat during this whole thing, but now media coverage is almost exclusively related to you know what.
Given that so many resources and talented people are turning their attention to COVID, there will certainly be new and exciting stories of perseverance and heroism that come out of this. Or, maybe you’re a brand with valuable information to share. Either way, you may be in a situation to want or need to contact a journalist during this time. Here’s how to do so like a seasoned PR pro.
Skip the fluff.
Clicks are up across major publications, so there’s no doubt these news outlets are going to be looking to capitalize on all of this extra traffic. This means more pressure on journalists to churn out more content than usual. On top of that, they’re just like everyone else in that they may have their own less-than-ideal circumstances at home right now. Given these points, it’s best to just cut to the chase in terms of what you need to tell these folks. No need to tell them how “uncertain” a time it is (they already know).
Prove your credibility.
With so much information buzzing around, journalists (the good ones at least) are doubling down on ensuring that they are only sharing 100% factual and credible information. This means that you need to tell them about how & why you’re a credible source for the information you’ve sent. This can include any certifications, awards, past articles & speaking opportunities or 3rd party testimony from other credible sources. Sharing your social profiles doesn’t hurt either if they have good size audiences.
Do your homework.
Not all COVID-19 stories are created equal. Almost every journalist I follow has shifted their stories to focus on the virus, but they are still for the most part honoring their respected beat. What I mean is, if they cover technology, your pitch to them should still focus on the intersect between technology and COVID. Just because they wrote about the virus doesn’t mean they’re open to hearing about any aspect of what’s going on.
Save the non-COVID story for a later date.
Now is not the time to be sharing news about your new product that’s unrelated to this current environment. Keep that news in your back pocket for the moment — or at the very least explain quickly in your subject or first sentence how this is unrelated to COVID-19 but may be of interest later. This will show that you understand the context in which the journalist is operating.
Be there to help.
Overall, just make sure that you’re sharing things with reporters that will help others more than it will help you. Being promotional and trying to sell in this environment is not going to make you any new friends. It’s a time to use journalism to share information that you have that will benefit others — or make them smile :) — and make the world a safer place. If you don’t check this box, it may be best to hit pause on whatever you plan on sharing.
Best of luck during these trying times.