These are busy days in the world of communication. The Corona virus forced us to revise communication schedules, cancel events and above all to prepare a lot of internal and external communications about how our customers are coping with this new reality.
For most companies, however, the communication train will now gradually come to a complete standstill (*). All short-term decisions have been made and agendas are becoming more and more empty. Except for journalists… If there is one group of professionals working overtime, aside from our healthcare workers, it’s them.
Newsrooms are working at full speed on newspaper supplements and extra news broadcasts. People at home are carefully listening to the radio and watching TV or they are following the news closely on their smartphones. More than ever, media are our window on the outside world.
But what does this mean for all those news stories we want to tell that have nothing to do with Corona? Are they now inevitably banned to the proverbial fridge until further notice? Or does this situation offer opportunities? Do people just want information about the evolution of Corona, or is there a possibility to talk about other topics as well? Do we dare to call a journalist at all to pitch a story, or are they unavailable?
It is certain that there will be a news vacuum (or so-called ‘komkommertijd’) in the coming weeks. But before we start pitching whatever stories we have left, we will all hopefully think twice. More than ever, we owe it to ourselves to show the professionalism of our business. And PR-professionals know that something is only newsworthy when a few crucial conditions are met.
First, your subject should have a clear link to the current context. The clearer the link, the more newsworthy it is. The importance of digital banking for seniors, medical apps that allow remote monitoring of patients or nutrition and health… these stories are bound to hit the spot.
The story will be all the more compelling if you take into account the relevance of it to a clearly defined or, on the contrary, as large a target group as possible. Tips from HR suppliers on how employers can manage homeworking teams, food producers who give advice on how to cook healthily and involve your children….
But also proximity, the extent to which your story does or does not respond to a dormant conflict, or a ‘unique’ element that makes your story stand out from others… There are many building blocks against which we have to test our stories before we launch them at the media.
So, dear PR colleagues, let us handle the situation as tactfully and professionally as possible. In the end, we will all be better off.
(*) except, of course, for companies in sectors where services are still expected and (crisis) communication is crucial.