Narrative Foresight: Predicting Future Stories to Plan Media Relations Strategies
May 28, 2020
The media has played a vital role in keeping Canadians informed during this year’s unprecedented start. From President Trump’s acquittal in early February, to COVID-19 cases growing around the world and dominating the newscycle, there has been no shortage of unfathomable events capturing media attention, making it difficult, especially for small-to-medium sized businesses, to get their stories heard. We explored this topic in a webinar hosted and led by industry professionals Kathleen Reid, Founder & Managing Director of Switchboard Public Relations, and Farhan Mohamed, former Editor-in-Chief of Daily Hive, where they shared their top tips for navigating a crisis.
Don’t throw out your strategy, pivot your strategy.
Although mainstream media remains focused on COVID-19 related content, trade publications, community publications, and niche papers are more likely to cover a story relevant to your organization.“You don’t need to throw out your strategy, but you may need to pivot and get creative. Focus on human interest stories, and reach out to reporters and papers you have existing relationships with”, says Kathleen.
Know the current narratives.
“It’s crucial to understand the current narratives to ensure the stories you’re going out with are appropriate and relevant”, cautions Farhan. “At Daily Hive, COVID-19 stories are dominating the headlines, but we’re covering it in a variety of ways, from feel-good stories related to brands focusing their efforts on combating the disease, to what industries are currently hiring.”
Understand a journalist’s perspective.
With journalists receiving upwards of 400 emails a day at times, it’s vital to understand how busy they are, and pitch effectively. “Short, sweet, and to the point. That’s how you should reach out to a journalist, especially in a time of crisis. Give me all the details I need to know up front, in one well-crafted paragraph, and you’re way more likely to get some pick-up”, recommends Farhan.
Don’t be tone deaf, but don’t stray too far from your own voice.
“It’s an emotional time for everyone, and it’s important to acknowledge what’s going on in the world, but at the same time you don’t need to change your voice entirely”, suggests Kathleen. She’s right. Remaining authentic and consistent not only increases your chances of getting some media coverage, but appeals more to your already established audience.
Keep in mind the collective uncertainty we are all experiencing is creating increased stress not just for you and your organization, but for journalists. “Everyone is clawing at each other, living through a difficult time experiencing unique emotion. Journalists are no different. Be patient, and be kind”, recommends Farhan.
Whether you’re a start-up looking to be the next success story, or are a medium-sized organization with plans of expanding your business, we’d encourage you to invest in your communications and media relations strategies as, especially in a time of uncertainty, a good strategy can make or break a brand. Set up a virtual coffee with us by reaching out at [email protected].