The process of producing a news – whether in a print media, online, television or radio – involves several stages that precede its publication or exhibition. Most part of the articles we read, listen or watch in the press come from companies. Through their communication teams and PR agencies, they develop the kind of content called media pitch. And it’s through the media pitch that the PR professionals start the media outreach and suggest to talk about a topic. The journalists, then, evaluate how relevant that media pitch is, and in case it’s really relevant, they decide for taking it and producing the article. If it’s a newspaper or magazine, the journalist asks for an interview with the company’s spokesperson. After that, the journalist writes the feature, the editor reviews it, and it finally gets published.
This whole process can either happen in a single day or take months. It is important to note that before the journalist receives the media pitch, the PR agency has written and aligned the content with the client, previously. Therefore, the timeframe between the media pitch development and the publication of the article in the media is relatively long.
But, why am I saying so?
Even if you (PR professional) develop a great media pitch and the journalist agrees with moving forward with it, still the success is not guaranteed. It still depends on what we call factual. The factual does not warn that it will happen and neither apologizes. It just happens and sweeps away all the planning you’ve done in terms of communication.
The impact of the recent Brazilian truck drivers’ strike in your media pitch
An example of this is what we experienced a few weeks ago with the truck drivers’ strike and the consequent crisis in the fuel supply throughout the country. Since its beginning (and since the society has been affected), the whole press has focused on repercussing the different angles of the subject. Television and radio spent almost 24 hours reporting the strike. The case has won the covers of newspapers and magazines, and the news portals have covered it in real time. Now, imagine if you (PR professional) were waiting for the publication of an article to which your client had given an interview. Certainly, that article would have fallen down and there would be no guarantee that the journalist would resume the media pitch and publish the article when everything had returned to normality.
Well, the first thing to do is to be transparent with the customer. Explain to him/her how the press works, what the criteria for newsworthiness are, and that the factual always ends up prevailing. It is also worth emphasizing that that really wasn’t the right moment to insist on the media pitch, once the intire media was focused on the truckers’ strike and its offshoots. If you insist on the media pitch in such a moment, it can generate a stress with the journalist and make it difficult to publish the article you’ve been waiting for.
So, what to do?
Wait a few days. Monitor the press. See how the channels that interest you continue to cover the crisis. Do they remain consuming 100% of the news? Or have they decreased and allowed room for other topics? When you realize that the media has narrowed the approach to the crisis, it is time to resume contact with the journalist. Remind him of the article you are waiting for. It is even possible that the journalist wants to broaden the approach because of the fuel crisis. If this happens and your client “fits” in the enlargement of the pitch, make yourself available to the journalist. Collaborate and offer the spokesperson again as an information source. Certainly, your relationship with the journalist will look even better. And this will facilitate the negotiation of future media pitches.