Engaging the Media During COVID-19

By Brian Lee, Broadreach Client Associate

It’s no secret – the pandemic has affected nearly every industry and workplace across the country. Newsrooms are no exception.

Journalists who were already overextended before COVID-19 now find themselves further struggling to keep pace with a news cycle that seems to shift minute-to-minute.

With this in mind, there is still room for stories that aren’t COVID-19 related – and journalists who are willing to cover them. Here are four quick tips to help you successfully connect with the media and share your news during the pandemic.

1. Know Your Newsworthiness

Some stories that would have been topical a few weeks ago might not be anymore. Some might need to be put on hold – while others scrapped completely. Before pitching a story idea, ask yourself: “What timely value am I bringing to this journalist, their outlet and their audience?”

2. Do Your Research

Many journalists suddenly find themselves covering new beats, while others are juggling usual responsibilities with additional pandemic coverage. Before pitching a story idea, do your homework and verify that you’re reaching out to the right point of contact. This was true before the pandemic, and it’s especially true now. Journalists’ Twitter bios are an easy go-to for quick confirmation.

3. Be Patient

The pandemic news cycle’s unpredictability means that pitched stories that once had a quick turnaround into coverage might take longer now depending on the circumstances. Be empathetic in your outreach and don’t follow up with a journalist in haste – give them the opportunity to do their job. Doing so could even provide you with solid footing to potentially build a relationship that lasts beyond the pandemic’s duration.

4. Be Kind When Correcting Errors

There’s no way around it – mistakes happen. As news outlets fight to break stories, journalists have to sift through a lot of information quickly, increasing the chances for a reporting error. Be kind when reaching out to correct a mistake, because it likely wasn’t made with bad intentions. However, it’s also important to be politely persistent if the mistake doesn’t get corrected, or if similar mistakes become a concerning trend.