September 10, 2020 KahnMedia

PITCHING IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS: WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN’T

Situational Awareness Is The Key To Success

The goal for any successful publicist is to position his or her clients front-and-center in the news landscape. Whether it be promoting a brand-new product or a business profile on the CEO, a publicist’s job is to boost brand awareness. But how do you run a successful PR campaign when the world is dealing with a pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything for everyone, including the media pitching landscape and how media outlets report stories. A compelling story that would have typically garnered coverage in the past might not see any interest these days. News outlets are working with fewer resources and smaller staffs, so crafting the perfect pitch — while being mindful of what’s going on in the world — is crucial. Now, more than ever, publicists need to be conscious of what they’re pitching, who the recipient of the pitch is, and when they’re pitching it.

Beau Boeckmann at Galpin Auto Sports

Timeliness is everything. Staying up-to-date with the news cycle is critical so that a pitch does not get lost or come off as insensitive to the pitch recipient. For example, that light-hearted product launch or media drive opportunity might fall on deaf ears if it’s pitched the same day as new unemployment numbers are released. Hold the pitch for a few days to ensure it will be seen by the right people and the right time. On that same note, look for opportunities in the news cycle where your client fits as an expert. These opportunities could lead to unexpected coverage. For example, Galpin Motors is one of the largest automobile dealership groups in the world, and it was forced to shut down its showrooms as a result of government-issued stay-at-home orders. This situation has played itself out in cities across the United States in 2020, and Galpin could have been in a dire situation had the shutdown continued for too long without any resolution. Kahn Media had a plan when Los Angeles finally announced that dealerships could reopen. Kahn’s PR team positioned Galpin Motors president and COO Beau Boeckmann to be an immediate source for interviews and insight on how dealerships are adapting to the new normal of business operations. The result of the pitch effort was a clean sweep — all five major L.A. TV news stations covered Galpin Motors within 24 hours.

Finding the right tone is vital. Because the pandemic is affecting everyone in different ways, it is essential to be mindful of the tone of your pitch. Being empathetic and kind will go a long way. Please do not waste a journalist’s time with a story outside of their beat; make sure what you are pitching is relevant to them and their outlet, and you’re far more likely to earn their interest in reporting on your pitch.  

Help the journalist out. In addition to tailoring the pitch to fit the journalist’s beat, offer additional sources or interviews to help flesh out the story. Journalists are working with fewer resources, so assisting with the details they need to craft the entire story is imperative to its success and could lead to other opportunities for your client in the future. If they see you and your company as a resource that is helpful and willing to go the extra mile for them to assist in creating content that will cut through the noise of today’s 24/7 environment, they will be more likely to want to work with you in the future. Remember that cultivating positive relationships with the people who tell your stories is critical. These connections are integral to their success — and yours. If you put in the effort on the front end, you are far more likely to see a positive result at the back end.