Strong media relations have always been one of the more cost-effective ways of marketing. Even though the benefits of building good media relations show up after long, once they do, you’ll realise how much easier it gets to manage brand reputation if you have good media on your side.
But with the Covid-19 pandemic, the business of communication has undergone a colossal shift. And along with that, traditional ways of reaching out to the media have also changed. With physical distancing norms in place, the days of personally visiting a journalist and pitching your brand’s story are no longer feasible, and there is no inkling of when those days might return.
This has made it important for PR consultancies and professionals to become more judicious about how they go about telling stories, or whether they tell any story at all. With the pandemic, we have adapted to sessions on Skype, ZOOM, WhatsApp, etc. We are finding solutions together through video conferencing, and successfully communicating with both our internal and external stakeholders online. We are reinventing strategies to become more digital. But when it comes to the media, the approach needs to be slightly different.
How to sustain your media relations during Covid
There have often been reports of how PR professionals have ended up sending some highly unfortunate pitches to reporters during the pandemic. So, before you hit ‘send’ on any media pitch that references Covid-19, you may want to think hard about whether you come across as an organisation or a professional who is trying to profit from the misery of people.
However, that is not to say that all stories must be dumped at this time. While the initial phase of the pandemic saw media stories centered around the virus itself, it has now gradually moved to talking about how it is affecting every facet of our lives. News reports tend to follow a certain cycle, and this pandemic is no different. So make sure you are aware of this cycle to be able to pitch accordingly. Human interest stories will take precedence over most things right now, so make sure your pitch always has some element of that.
And while you shoot those pitches, never forget that just like everyone else, journalists have also been overwhelmed with all the work around the pandemic coverage. This has also resulted in resources being stretched, so much so that often reporters have had to switch beats, or even double up to cover multiple beats at the same time. Be compassionate and respectful of their time, instead of shoving stories down their inbox and pestering them with a response.
The Covid-19 pandemic will definitely change PR and media relations as we know it. However, the need of the hour is to take cognizance of the current scenario, and continue nurturing your hard-earned media relationships innovatively and empathetically.
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