Attributed to Simone Knox
The past few months have demonstrated there is a still a very real demand for independent journalism and traditional media.
A recent Neilsen Digital Content Rating found Australians spent 87% more time on financial news and information websites over the lockdown period. The research also showed the top 10 news sites across Australia reported a 57% increase in visitation during March 2020 compared to the previous month. The public demand for information has also seen subscriptions to trusted publications like The Financial Review increase at staggering rates.
In the days of fake news, the uncertainty of the current climate has many of us seeking reliable and established news sources that provide accurate and trustworthy information.
But it’s not just COVID-19 and its impacts we’ve been reading – Google searches for “good news” have reportedly jumped fivefold since the start of 2020.
For an industry that has been shedding staff and closing newsrooms around the world, increased readership is certainly welcome news. However, the spike in consumer interest comes with a freefall in advertising revenue for both digital and traditional press.
The most recent casualty being News Corp Australia’s announcement of significant job cuts and the print closure of more than 100 local and regional newspapers.
While media companies, analysts and governments debate the best way to support the industry, journalists have been busier than ever as they work to meet consumer demand on a skeleton staff. And the way they are broadcasting, and publishing news has changed.
Instead of working out of newsrooms and publishing houses, journalists like many of us, have been required to adapt to a new way of working - from home.
Production teams have relied heavily on technology such as Zoom and Skype to conduct interviews across Australia and the world. Long term planning has also been thrown out the window, and lead times have been shorter than ever as the media aims to provide timely updates of the fast-evolving situation.
So there are fewer journalists than ever, they have less time, fewer resources to develop and research a story and growing competition from the proliferation of online content. They are also receiving more pitches for stories than ever as the lines between marketing and PR blur.
So what does this mean for brands seeking earned media to help amplify their messages? And is it still worth including traditional media in your communication strategies?
For most of our clients at Hunter Communications, we still recommend an integrated strategy that seeks out traditional media, alongside digital and social. It’s clear that people are still reliant on news media, when seeking out independent, truthful sources of information and guidance. But it’s harder than ever before to seek cut through.
With this in mind, we have compiled our top tips for brands to best engage with traditional media.
1. Make the content newsworthy
You will only get results if you pitch newsworthy stories. Get familiar with some of the basic principles of news – timeliness, relevance, significance, novelty and human interest. For example – does the story offer a piece of information the audience didn’t have before? Does it have a unique human interest element or some interesting statistics?
Journalists are also looking for authenticity. Your pitch shouldn’t be a hard sell with a dozen points – just get down to the cut through message you want to convey and why their audience will find it newsworthy. Keep your pitch short, to the point and don’t oversell the content.
2. Consider deadlines
The day and time you approach a journalist is almost as important as the content itself. Journalists, editors and producers are always busy and if you approach them close to deadline, your pitch isn’t likely to be read at all.
Understand the basics of meeting deadlines for print, TV, radio and digital media. Newspapers and TV newsrooms generally have meetings mid-morning to plan out their coverage for the day, so if you are pitching to them, get in early. Radios and digital are a lot more fluid, but make sure you don’t call a radio station just before the hour – they are preparing to broadcast!
Do your research, talk to the journalists and find out the optimal time to pitch stories. If you don’t hear back after a day, pick up the phone and give them a call. And remember that breaking news trumps everything!
3. Provide quality assets
Our media counterparts are working with a lack of resources and at a faster pace than ever before, as they aim to meet the public’s demand for new content.
As such, the more quality assets brands can provide them with, the better. As a rule, don’t send a pitch without at least one of the following to support your media release: high-resolution imagery, video footage that can be repurposed across TV and internet channels, or 8-16 second audio grabs of spokespeople. Providing good quality assets can be the make or break as to whether a story gets a run.
PR practitioners should be asking the hard questions of clients to ensure there is truth and accuracy to the content created, and it is delivered with transparency and speed to meet deadlines.
4. Foster positive relationships
Our media friends are steadfast in the value they place on established relationships and the trust that these bring. This is something we place a great emphasis on as PR practitioners.
Brands that consistently share relevant and newsworthy content, provide quality assets and are able to act quickly when required, are valued by media.
By putting effort into fostering and maintaining positive relationships with media, you place your brand in a strong position to generate cut through when you have a story to share.
These relationships will also often result in media approaching your brand personally for a spokesperson comment or expert opinion when they are working on a relevant piece.