How Pitching to Journalists Has Changed During Covid

How Pitching to Journalists Has Changed During Covid

17th June 2020

With the news agenda reporting on the up-to-the-minute Covid-19 stories, it can seem like there isn’t any space for other news. 

With planned campaigns, news announcements, and marketing targets still to hit, it can be tricky to know how to approach the media with content that isn’t pandemic related, whilst still being mindful of the world around us. Here is some practical advice on how to craft your PR campaigns and materials for maximum results, without undermining the current situation. 


The Elephant in the room 

It is important to be sensible when it comes to media relations. Now is not the time to hard sell a new product or service, or content that is non Covid-19 related. Focus on positive angles, that elevate topics like culture, mental health or dealing with the current lockdown phase. 

Many publications, for example Forbes, have set up dedicated sections of their websites for Covid news, meaning more resources and writers are focusing their time there, and less on other areas of the news agenda. 

When crafting a press release or media alert, it can be helpful to nod to current affairs, without trying to jump on the back of them. It can help to have several people from outside your direct team vet your idea or press release angle to make sure that you aren’t getting the tone wrong. It can be easy to make a mistake when everyone is moving in the same direction. 


Test and learn 

The majority of businesses have suffered financially due to the effects of Covid, which means that budget and resources for PR and content marketing may have been cut or at least strained. 

In such uncertain times, the best approach to take when it comes to activity is a cautious one. The landscape has changed, meaning that it’s essential that you test and learn, rather than invest time and budget into larger campaigns that carry a high risk. 

If you have any good media contacts, run your ideas past them to get a read on the likelihood of them gaining traction from the start. 

If that isn’t an option, you can find other ways to minimise the risk of larger campaigns, swap a press release for a media alert which takes less time to write, but still gets the story across.


Timing is everything 

Many of us couldn’t have foreseen how the pandemic would unfold, so it’s likely that campaigns and projects you had planned before March are likely no longer relevant or appropriate. 

In more normal times, the timing of a pitch is vital and even something like a busy news day can hinder even the strongest of stories.

Consider holding back certain stories that aren’t topical until later in the year or until the same time next year if you are working in something seasonal. As the news agenda continues to evolve and change, you can take time to revise your idea and adapt it for another purpose. 

An effective mechanic for survey or data stories, is to run a new poll with a selection of questions from your original research. This will refresh your older data and give it an up to date spin needed to capture the attention of the media. 


The changing face of technology 

The Innesco blog reports ‘Tech is helping journalists to shape their readers – to understand who’s reading stories, what types of content they’re interested in, what times of day particular stories are gaining traction etc’ however, the human element of journalism is becoming more important in in increasing the accuracy over speed when it comes to readership. 

Lockdown has completely changed the way that we work, communicate, socialise and do everyday tasks from food shopping to healthcare. This means the way that we consume content has changed. Consider the formats that you deliver your campaigns in, from social media, influencer marketing, to paid advertising. Your campaign may not be best promoted the way that it once was. 


The key thing to remember is to keep abreast of the national news agenda, and your specific trade titles to make sure that you are keeping your finger on the pulse of topical stories and what the media is covering. That way you can make the most informed decisions on your own PR and content campaigns. 


Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash


Written By
Rebecca has over eight years of experience executing successful integrated PR campaigns for clients across travel, entertainment, fashion, tech and e-commerce sectors.
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