Hardly any event in history has dominated the headlines as much and for as long as the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 is omnipresent across every news outlet around the globe, crowding out the attention for many other significant events happening every day. As a result, many PR professionals have abandoned their hope of winning a journalist’s interest in any other story. In the competition for newsworthiness, it has become virtually impossible to cut through the noise of the ongoing pandemic.
In the light of these stakes, organisations are raising the legitimate question if it is still worth it to engage in media relations at all. The answer is not a simple one. Indeed, pitching non-corona-related news in hopes of coverage has become more difficult. “The only real alternative in these unprecedented times is joining the Covid-19 conversation,” says Eric Thys, Head of Public Affairs at Cadex Consulting. “But organisations that aim to demonstrate relevance in these unparalleled times must pay attention to some important rules,” he adds.
Have A Clear Brand, But Flex Your Message
There is a thin line between contributing to the public discourse and leveraging breaking news for one’s own benefit. The press release distributor PR Newswire has set clear standards for accepting releases in the time of Covid-19. The service provider rejects submissions that either try to exploit the current situation for an unfair profit or attempt newsjacking for the purpose of promoting a product. What matters for writing a successful press release today is applying more thoughtfulness and sensitivity combined with delivering valuable and inspiring information.
But the way organisations decide to seize this opportunity has many more implications. The pandemic calls for brands to clearly position themselves on how they intend to help resolve social challenges and define their purpose for the greater good. More than ever, organisations must connect with people’s current needs and fears to be able to create a meaningful impact. Besides, the right timing and synching in with the news cycle are key. Organisations that manage to adapt their messaging to the evolving news narrative increase their chances of generating coverage.
More Opportunity for Engagement
“The evolving pandemic is putting the media environment under pressure to deliver fast facts and updates. For this reason, 24/7 responsiveness is critical for successfully engaging in media relations,” Public Affairs expert Eric Thys explains. Cadex Consulting, a leading political consultancy and PR firm, closely observes the fast-paced news cycle to be able to prepare timely client statements on emerging political implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. Organisations and individuals who have a unique take on current developments or deliver supportive action can provide journalists with original news angles they are likely to adopt in their reporting.
While acquiring earned media has become more complicated, it has also gained significant value. As people seek more frequent updates, facts, and information to deal with the overwhelming uncertainty, the role of journalism in society is receiving new appraisal. As a result, the media must live up to growing expectations by the public.