Nurturing Creativity in PR: Getting Coverage Without Hard News

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Emily Fang
February 7, 2024
Nurturing Creativity in PR: Getting Coverage Without Hard News

In our fast-paced field of PR, adapting and innovating are paramount to success. While securing media coverage with hard news stories often takes center stage, there are times when the news cycle slows down. A client might not have many press releases in the pipeline or new customer wins to announce, but the need to remain front and center with target audiences remains. This is where skilled PR teams thrive – making moments in between these landmarks that allow us to dive deeper into storytelling and building a client’s narrative.

During these lulls, opportunities for traditional PR may seem scarce, but it is our responsibility to ensure we work to keep them coming. My team motto for clients has always been relentless momentum, and a valuable skill that keeps the trains going is the ability to think creatively to secure coverage without hard news. In this blog post, I’ll share some insights and strategies for nurturing creativity and making the most of the quieter moments in PR.

Embracing the Quiet Periods

Public relations can be cyclical, with peaks and troughs in media activity. During the quieter periods, it's imperative to view them as opportunities rather than challenges. Embracing the quiet periods allows PR professionals to regroup, refocus, and get creative without the pressure of breaking news.

One way to use this time productively is to set up an internal team brainstorm to tease out new storylines, refer back to Subject Matter Expert (SME) interview notes, and consider hitting different or new key audiences. It’s also a good time to closely monitor for HAROs and Qwoted requests, or reach back out to journalists we’ve worked with in the past to see how we can support any new reporting. Sometimes there’s still the opportunity to comment on a customer announcement or share a critical perspective for an emerging industry story.

For instance, one of my clients was a global leader in entertainment design solutions – they designed everything from rollercoaster rides to casino layouts. But they rarely published any press releases of their own. Instead, our agency would look for trending industry stories, such as Disney theme park upgrades or other major external milestones to capitalize on. We’d position the CEO as a third-party industry source with decades of experience and were able to secure coverage using this strategy with CNBC, Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, Fox News, and more.

Doubling Down on Thought Leadership

The Disney example leads me to this next key insight, which involves doubling down on subject matter experts. It’s an excellent way to stay relevant and engage key audiences without relying on hard news. Position your client as an authority in their field by producing high-quality and timely content that showcases their expertise. This can be in the form of in-depth bylines, Q&As, or rapid response commentary on industry-specific challenges and trending topics. It’s also a great time to revisit upcoming editorial calendar opportunities with trades and look to pair publications’ themes with relevant SMEs who can speak to them.

Moreover, there is an ever-growing list of corporate and industry podcasts that are being produced. This is a great form of media to turn to when hard news isn’t readily available. Our team at Greenough is constantly in touch with production teams that oversee the creation of multiple podcasts. This media strategy has resulted in many interview opportunities across our client base and has helped us diversify our clients’ SME benches beyond CEOs with opportunities for CMOs, CROs, and other key business leaders.

Harnessing the Power of Social Media

In addition to media outreach, social media platforms are ideal for staying engaged with your target reporters and core audiences during quieter periods. Create a content calendar that includes a mix of informative, entertaining, and interactive posts to maintain a consistent online presence, and be sure to tag, comment on, and reshare “wish list” reporters’ articles via corporate and thought leader social media platforms.

By contributing to relevant online conversations within your client’s industry and highlighting reporters’ work, this strategy will not only engage followers and attract new ones but also draw attention from the authors themselves as well as other reporters in the space. This online attention might make a reporter more amenable to making time in their busy schedules for an introductory briefing with a CEO or consider commentary from an SME of that company in the long term. While it might not have an immediate effect, these thoughtful touchpoints matter and can lead to secured opportunities down the line.

In Conclusion

Getting creative without relying on hard news is not only achievable but can also be a rewarding aspect of a public relations practitioner’s role. Embrace the quiet periods as opportunities for reflection, storytelling, and relationship-building. By harnessing industry trends, thought leadership, and the power of social media, your teams can continue to garner media opportunities and keep a client's relentless momentum going, even when hard news is in short supply.

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