Respond to Breaking News to Secure Media Coverage

Pitching a new or existing product, company spokesperson or useful tips are all successful ways to secure media coverage for your brand year-round.

But there is one strategy you can use to secure immediate media attention-it just requires vigilance and a bit of strategic thinking. You can successfully secure widely read and relevant media coverage by piggybacking your company’s story with a breaking news event.  Below is a step-by-step approach for taking advantage of timely current events to secure immediate visibility.

1. Lay the groundwork.  Start by setting up news monitoring alerts for key terms that impact your business, industry or customers.  Monitor these incoming news alerts daily.  When a big event occurs, you will know about it immediately.

2. Target the right media.  Now that you know what they are writing about, find out who is writing it.  When it comes to national and impactful news, reporters often write follow up stories expanding their initial coverage of an event or news item.  Add these reporters to your media list, and be sure to develop a very targeted and personalized introduction as to why you are pitching your story to them specifically.

Secondarily, find out what beat these reporters typically cover and use that information to identify media at other publications that will likely be interested in your story.  For example, if environment reporters are covering the breaking news story at a few key outlets, make sure environment reporters from all relevant outlets are on your media list.

3. Provide a new spin.  Do not follow up on a breaking news item pitching the same exact story; you will be a day late and a dollar short.  The key here is to find a new angle to the story that will entice reporters to develop a follow up story.  Examples include: pitch a potential solution to the new problem, play devil’s advocate by warning of hidden dangers, provide insight on how the news item impacts a certain group of people or vital segment of industry, showcase the positive outcomes of a negative situation or vice versa, etc.

4. Provide an expert.  Once you decide on your approach, position a company spokesperson as an expert who can speak to media on this topic as part of your pitch.  Ensure they are knowledgeable and entertaining.  Media will be on the lookout for interesting sound bites and inspirational – or controversial – statements and insight surrounding the situation.

5. Make the connection to your brand.  Ensure your pitch provides a direct connection for media as to why your brand or product is an essential part of this story.  Perhaps your product provides a necessary solution, or maybe your company has done business in the impacted industry for years.  Or your company experienced something similar before, and you understand how consumers will react.  Just be sure to clearly state the connection to validate why your company is a good resource for a follow up story.

6. Conduct follow up.  Media will have already covered the breaking news item by the time your pitch reaches them.  It is key to conduct media follow up calls.  Your goal is to help media understand why this new angle, expert or product is a critical component of the evolving story.  Ultimately, if you can secure coverage for your brand related directly to timely, breaking news, it will be more relevant and interesting to consumers already engaged in the story.

Need help launching a reactive publicity and media relations campaign? Contact me at kayleigh (at) sweeneypr (dot) com or 440.333.0001 ext. 105.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.