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Carolyn Moncel

When the Media Bumps Your News Coverage


by Carolyn Moncel

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 injuries.


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.


Carolyn Davenport-Moncel is president and founder of Mondavé Communications, a global marketing and communications firm based in Chicago and Paris, and a subsidiary of MotionTemps, LLC.
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Do you have a media relations question? Ask Carolyn! Your questions could be featured in an up-coming article. If you enjoy reading the Shoestring PR articles then sign up for our monthly articles via email or visit our Mondavé Communications blog - it's free!

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