15/04/20 Becky Stead

Generating PR noise when one story dominates the news

It can be a difficult decision to make on whether it is worth generating PR coverage when there is one huge story or topic dominating the headlines. But if you do, how do you breakthrough and get your story coverage?

There is a range of reasons why generating coverage during a time when one topic dominates the new is just as important. No matter how big a story is, there is always space for other news. Although the main tabloids may seem crowded with one story, not all media bulletins, newspapers, blogs and so on can be about one feature only. There will always be other segments to cover.

To ensure you get your best chance at coverage during such a time, you can ask yourself a range of questions before going ahead, such as:

How are you telling your story?

During a time when one story is dominating the media, it is important to be judicious in how you tell your story. Consider whether now is the right time to pushing your story. Can it or should it wait?

If you believe your story is still worth being heard and relevant to your target audience still, then you can move onto the next question.

However, you could also consider whether or not your story can be relatable to the dominating story. Look at whether your story changes due to the dominating topic. Is it impacting the area your story is focusing on?

If you believe your story is impacted by the dominating topic, you can look to incorporate this into your story. It could result in you getting more coverage due to it being related. However, you should be wary of crossing any line. You do not want to be seen as profiting or capitalising on the misfortune of others.

Do you know the cycle?

During a dominant news topic, the news will tend to follow a cycle or pattern on how it covers the stories within. Any major news stories will always be covered during the first stage of the cycle, with those stories and reports being monitored and updated on a daily basis.

The second stage allows for gaps within the major news stories, looking into follow-up pieces relating to the dominant topic. This could create a perfect window of opportunity to place your story.

The third stage comes when a change of topic is felt as though it is needed. The opportunity can come where the dominant topic has become too much and other stories become more valid. Normality is desired. This is often related to reader fatigue and is covered in journalism publications, such as the Press Gazette.

At the time of publishing this article, COVID-19 is the dominating subject. Media publications monitor story fatigue on an on-going basis, and it is important you do too, as it could identify the right time for you to launch your story.

Coronavirus news interest: the UK, US and Italy (Based on Google News search interest)

Does your outreach strategy need to change?

For many publications, a dominant topic can overwhelm their media resources and it is largely possible for journalists to be shifted from their usual expertise to assisting in other areas.

Building good relationships with journalists is vital in normal times and more so during a period when journalists are overwhelmed with work. This can impact your normal outreach strategy and you need to identify that as easily as possible.

Journalists that you usually contact for a specific type of story may not be working that story anymore, so you do not want to bombard them with something that may not be relevant to them for the time being.  Monitor what they are publishing and saying on social media or if you aren’t sure, reach out to them as concisely as possible.

It may be possible that you will need to discover other journalists to send out your story to, but without an established relationship, it may even guarantee them seeing your idea. There is also the option for a wide send out to a range of tabloids, news sites and blogs with the hope it will be given to the right person.

What fundamentals are there to focus on?

If you initially established that your story could wait, this does not mean you have to stay dormant. During a dominate news story, it could be the perfect time for you to discover new media opportunities.

You could:

  • Use platforms that send out media requests to see if you can gain coverage a different way.
  • Follow journalists on a range of social media to pick up on any information they are searching for.
  • Build up a plan for the long-haul, looking into ways to build visibility and your strategies with the media.
Becky Stead

Digital PR Specialist, dedicated to producing newsworthy PR campaigns and creating unique tactics to build links worldwide.