We’re more than a year into the pandemic and the media relations landscape has evolved with the changing times. When COVID-19 outbreaks spiked in the U.S. in March 2020, most newsrooms went into full crisis mode. The stories that the media were interested in covering prior to the pandemic shifted almost overnight.
Journalists immediately pivoted to covering breaking news and ongoing developments to keep their audiences informed, and during the initial weeks of the pandemic there was not much room for reporting on anything else.
Through 2020, the nature of media relations, interviews, newsrooms and reporting changed. We went from regular phone and in-person interviews to having all conversations over Zoom while sitting in our makeshift living room offices and kitchen tables. During this time, it was all about focusing on the basics.
In the world of journalism and media relations, we’re just beginning to see signs of a potential ‘return to normal’ on the horizon. Journalists, specifically within the B2B space, are now focused on reporting on the future and how businesses and consumers can best prepare.
As tumultuous as this past year was, it also presented some key lessons about the media landscape that should not be ignored.
Lesson one: personalizing the connection
While 2020 took many things away from us, it also created an opportunity to make new connections with key media targets.
As we all found ourselves stuck to the confines of our homes, we also found that we had more time to start conversations. However, to land these interviews with journalists, personalization became more crucial than ever.
For example, Cision’s 2021 Global State of the Media Report revealed that “1 in 4 journalists receive over 100 pitches per week with most ending up in the virtual trash due to irrelevance.”
You would not reach out to a prospect customer with irrelevant information would you? In that same vein, journalists need a personalized approach, especially in today’s environment during which newsrooms are lean and mean–and journalists have more being demanded of them every day.
Even before COVID, newsrooms were stretched thin. Throughout 2019 and 2020, many publications unfortunately had to cut their staff and journalists. This required those left in the newsroom to be extremely resourceful with their time.
This past year showed the importance of ensuring each pitch was targeted and provided value to each journalist from the get-go. While journalists have been more willing and available to speak with more story resources, these conversations need to provide value to the journalist to help them do their job.
Lesson two: providing relevance and differentiation
Besides being personalized, sources also need to come to the table with relevant and differentiated points of view. It’s about identifying how you can best answer the journalist’s questions and provide responses that other publications have not fully answered.
In preparing for interviews, we recommend our clients analyze the following questions in order to bring value to the journalist:
- What is the breaking news?
- What does this news mean and why should the journalist’s audience care?
- What does this news mean for your customers and your industry?
- What is one key thing that (your customer or industry watchers) should consider or think about as they are digesting this news?
- How can you or your company provide further analysis and a point of view for this news?
Keep in mind that if you have unique data that can really highlight what’s going on in the industry or point to outliers or differentiators, that’s always very interesting and helpful for journalists.
Lesson three: treating journalists as you treat your best customers
Being able to position yourself as a helpful resource is certainly a great way to develop a relationship over time. It’s about keeping in mind the various ways you can bring something that the journalist needs to every interaction with them.
A key lesson here, especially during this past year, is to always treat journalists like you would treat your best customers. They’re every bit as important to the company as your customer relationships. And, just like your best customers, you want to make sure you are helping answer their questions, identifying new ways to think about things and helping them do their job.
After 2020? Personalize, differentiate and foster.
2020 was challenging, there’s no question about it. However, the past year also put an emphasis on the journalist/ source relationship and presented key lessons to succeed within this environment. It all boils down to added value.
Journalists are pressed for time more than ever before and need valuable resources to help them write the most accurate and engaging article. As a source, you can help them by personalizing your approach, providing value through differentiation, and fostering a long-term relationship.
Interested in doing more with your media relations strategy in 2021? We’d love to see how we can help jump-start your activities and support you for the long-haul. Let’s chat.