A four-alarm fire, plane
crashes, celebrity deaths, stock-market crashes, or even
the verdict on a high-profiled criminal or civil case.
What do all of these news stories have in common? All
are instances when the media will likely bump your company's
news coverage in favor of a breaking news story, and little
can be done about it - at least not initially.
I was reminded of this fact recently after the verdict
from the Martha Stewart trial was announced. It immediately
made me think of all those people working in media relations
who had probably secured media on that day for their companies
or clients, and now would likely have to scramble to reschedule
their coverage, or lose it all together. Nothing incites
greater fear into the hearts of those responsible for
publicity -- especially when they have worked so hard
in planning and securing press coverage for a story.
It also took me back to the two occasions when the media
bumped my stories as well. The first time was nine years
ago when our company's president was waiting in a local
television station's green room. She and her partner were
to appear live on the afternoon news when their coverage
was cancelled due to a surprise winter storm, which later
paralyzed the city.
It happened again six years later when one of my clients
was participating in a local charity event. Planning editors
at all the news stations were set to dispatch news camera
trucks to the event that evening, when high winds caused
a terrible building accident which resulted in serious
Nothing makes you say, "Ouch" louder than when the media
bumps your story. Whether you are a small-business owner
handling your own publicity or part of a small communications
team, remember three things: First, when the media bumps
your news coverage, it is never personal; second, if you
stick around in the PR business long enough, sooner or
later it will happen to you, too; and third, when securing
media for your company or client, you always have to be
armed with a back-up plan.
Consider using these tips to help soften the blow of
the bump, or avoid it all together:
Secure as much media coverage in advance as possible.
It really is okay to receive coverage a couple days or
even a couple of weeks prior to an event or major announcement.
Most seasoned PR people prefer this and in many cases
it really isn't imperative that coverage happen exactly
on the date of the event or announcement.
Rely on more than just television coverage. Television
thrives on action, conflict, controversy and catastrophe.
Therefore, vary your media contact list to include reporters
from many different types of news outlets (newspaper,
magazine, online, television, radio, etc.)
Design your media campaign always with a "Plan B"
in place. Should the unthinkable occur, know who you'll
contact, and have fresh story angles already developed
and ready for deployment.
When the media bumps your news coverage, it only occurs
because a bigger, more immediate story surfaces. Even
though we now live in a world of round-the-clock news
coverage, breaking news of all types will always take
precedence over all other stories, as they should.
The important point to remember here is this. There is
always an element of luck associated with securing media
coverage, and sometimes luck isn't on your side no matter
how well the campaign has been prepared and executed.
Next time the media bumps your story, just keep smiling
because it's not the end of the world. Chalk it up as
being just another opportunity to add fresh angles to
your story and a chance to retell it at a later date.
you have a media relations question? Ask
Carolyn! Your questions could be featured in an up-coming
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