Welcome back! In the last blog, we began looking at how to make the most of a news hijack. Once you know what’s happening, and what your client can say, you can begin to turn that into scorching coverage:
Explore the angles
For PR to work, it has to offer something to the journalist, as well as the client. When writing up one of the biggest news stories of the year, your average journalist doesn’t need to be bothered by comments that add nothing to the story and are essentially just variations on “what they said”. Instead, they need to be given a fresh take on the news, or even better an angle that they hadn’t even considered. For instance, reported before the budget but buried as an off-hand comment in the speech itself, was a new tidal energy project in Wales. While moderately interesting at the time, when laced in the context of a drive for abundant, renewable energy for an increasingly hungry data centre industry, it became the germ of a comment that gave publications a new angle on the budget apart from endless comments on rural broadband and electric cars.
Move with the news
The downside to today’s 24-hour news culture might be that news stories never stand still, thanks to the need to keep filling an essentially infinite space. Of course, the upside is that, since the news never stands still, monitoring a breaking story can give extra angles and opportunities that might not have presented themselves in the beginning. For instance, with the budget, the real story wasn’t only the morning’s leaks provided to the press; it wasn’t even the speech itself or its supporting documents. It was the ongoing reaction to the speech, which helped spotlight the subjects that were really grabbing the audience’s attention; which messages were likely to fall a bit flat; and what everyone thought of apparently planning a £1 million anniversary celebration in order to make a couple of cheeky gags. This then helped us tweak our pitch and our targets to make sure we were sending a comment to journalists who would value it in the format that they needed.
Don’t stop until the day is done
Pitching is a fundamental part of the PR process. Just emailing out a comment or story to all and sundry might result in some coverage, perhaps even good coverage; but it will very much be in the same vein as a million monkeys with typewriters eventually pitching Shakespeare. Instead, pitching should, as mentioned, be focused and continual – making sure that journalists are receiving ongoing, updated comment to fit the reality of the news. PR should never rest on its laurels either: while not something to be repeated on every occasion, if a publication has covered part of the story, then depending on the situation, it can be worth getting in touch to suggest some extra content.