How the pandemic has changed media relations strategies

The pandemic has changed the media landscape and forced PRs to modify media relations strategies. Here are some of the ways you can increase the chances of getting coverage.

1. Clear and specific subject lines are a must

Many media professionals are still working from home. Having clear and specific subject lines are key to getting the media to open your email. If you are reaching out to TV and radio about segment ideas, mention it in the subject line or if you are reaching out to print publications or websites with story idea, mention it in the subject line. However, if you are reaching out to media with your press releases or media advisories, mention releases in the subject line or invitation, interview opportunity or photo opportunity in the subject line depending on the content of the media advisory.

2. Prioritise email follow-ups

Depending on the urgency of the news, you might need to follow up with media regarding your pitch. Under normal situation following up by phone might be the best option. However with more people working from home, key contacts might not be at the office to receive your call. In this situation, you might need to pivot to following up by email. When following up by email, remember to mention follow up in the email subject line to get the media’s attention. Your follow up pitch needs to be brief, need to summarize in three short sentences why you are following up and also make sure to paste the email you are following up about in the body of your email.

3. Virtual interviews are the new norm

Many morning, afternoon, evening and weekend shows on TV are still depending heavily on virtual formats. Most of these interviews are either done by Skype or Zoom. Furthermore, it is also normal for some show producers to do connections tests a day before the live or pre-taped interviews.

To set your spokesperson up for success in these virtual interviews, make sure to properly media train your spokesperson. In the media training session, go over how to properly answer the interview questions on air, the right backdrop to have during the interview, the appropriate clothes to wear and also make sure to go over how to use Skype or Zoom.

4. Don’t push your brand

Producers of morning, afternoon, evening and weekend shows on TV are able to identify very quickly which types of pitches are promotional and which types are editorial. Pitches that come from companies are automatically forwarded to the media outlets sales department. The producers consider those types of pitches a buy, so they are required to let their sales department know.

One way you can make the pitch editorial focused would be by making it neutral. You can take your brand’s logo off of the release. Instead of focusing too much on your company’s announcements, try to capitalise on fun national days and trending topics relevant to your industry in your pitches.

5. Consider using influencers

More media outlets are moving towards a ‘pay-to-play’ business model where brands will have to pay a cost to secure a segment opportunity. These segments can sometimes be really expensive costing between thousands of pounds per segment. Some brands have a tight marketing budget, so spending this large amount on one segment does not seem feasible.

If you are looking to raise awareness about your latest campaign or product, consider partnering with an influencer doing media tours. There are lifestyle influencers that do nationwide media tours during significant holidays. These influencers have good relationships with popular morning, afternoon and weekend show producers on TV. Furthermore, it is very affordable to partner with them.

6. Relationships are key

Although Covid has forced us to change our pitching style to media, relationships with engaged media will still be important in generating coverages. Editors of print publications and websites that wrote stories about your brand in the past will cover your brand again. Producers of morning, afternoon, evening and weekend shows on TV and radio you have pitched to before will likely cover your pitch again because of the relationship you have with them. Continue to build those relationships with key media because you can leverage those relationships later.

Written by Samiha Fariha, account executive at Torchia Communications. Follow Samiha on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.