Our Cunningly Good Guide to… generating press coverage during a pandemic

It is fair to say that there has never been a more challenging time to try and generate press coverage, particularly if your business is not in any way related to the present national COVID-19 crisis.

Many editorial teams have slimmed down and so too their print publications, meaning there is less space for coverage and less reporters to sell your story into. Add in the fact that many reporters have now been put on furlough by their employers, so in many instances, those reliable go-to press contacts are no longer there. You must start from scratch selling your story into a freelancer, whom you may or may not know. Print media is in trouble as sales continue to drop due to more people staying at home and not going out to buy a newspaper or magazine, whilst, ironically, there has never been a greater demand from people for the latest news.

As Ben Wright, business editor at The Telegraph, commented in a recent webcast, editorially everything is now seen through the “prism of the COVID-19 crisis”, and how long this will go on for, no one is quite sure. To put simply, if your story is not bigger than, or on a par with, COVID-19 (a few notable recent examples are VE Day, the recent death of rock ‘n’ rock star Little Richard), you have very little chance of getting coverage on it. COVID-19 has crowded everything else out. With its daily twists and turns with which the media is trying to frantically to keep up, it has not only changed national life for good, but has thoroughly set the news agenda. Given all this, it would be wise to manage your expectations in terms of the coverage you can realistically expect to achieve in these unprecedented times.

For example, we recently issued a press statement on behalf of one of our clients, the substance of which would normally receive a lot of media coverage. However, this time, the news received very little pick up. It is a prime example of how things have changed and how stories which normally would receive significant amounts of press coverage are no longer doing so.

So, what to do? Though it may seem grim now, with news outlets churning out negative COVID-19 story after negative COVID-19 story, believe it or not in this crisis there is still an appetite for positive news. As Ben Wright so aptly put it: “there must be a mix of light and shade” in all the stories that The Telegraph include. So, for your company there is hope, and still opportunity for coverage in these most challenging of times. There is a huge amount of media interest in businesses on the ‘front line’ who have had to adapt and innovate in the COVID-19 crisis to stay afloat and profitable. Certainly, The Courier are on the look out for food and drink producers and businesses in Courier County who are coping, adapting, and innovating in this crisis. Given this, we were able to secure feature coverage for a business member of our client, Heart 200 (the new tourism route through Perthshire and Stirlingshire), talking about how they were adapting and innovating despite the challenges COVID-19 had thrown at them.

Likewise, for instance, in The Telegraph. The amount of SME coverage has increased as the paper covers more stories from the frontline and how smaller companies are adjusting to the crisis. The paper is covering this sector by sector and is running an “open for business” slot, profiling companies who are figuring out how to operate through lockdown and the times ahead. If your company has an interesting, encouraging, story to tell about how it has been adapting through the pandemic, there is opportunity for you to gain press coverage.

With more people at home tuning into terrestrial TV than ever before, broadcasters such as the BBC and ITV have  had to change their whole broadcasting schedules, bringing in more content specifically related to COVID-19 in the last six weeks. To find out more click here. These significant changes bring coverage opportunities for your company, but these stories need to be viewed through the “prism” of COVID-19.

If you would like some advice or help in navigating the media at this time to generate coverage for your company, or would like our professional PR team to do all the graft for you, please get in touch on 01738 658187 or email us at sales@volpa.co.uk – we would love to hear from you.