PR Tactic: Getting Media Coverage When One Topic is Dominating the Agenda


What is it?

You have a story that you want to share in the media, but there is one huge story dominating the news agenda. What do you do?

Why do you do it?

There are a number of reasons why you would share news in the middle of a massive global news story. They are:

  • It is time sensitive. If you wait the opportunity will be lost. It could be an anniversary, or a story that will be broken by someone else if you don’t break it.
  • You see an opportunity. You think that your story is a good enough contrast to what is happening and you will get attention.
  • You are tone deaf. You are not tuned into what is happening in the world and make a misjudgement. This is a very weak reason but it happens all the time.

How do you do it?

No matter how big a story is, there is alway room for other news on the agenda. Every website, bulletin, newspaper, or broadcast can’t be about one story. There will always be a segment called ‘In other news’.

Here are some things to consider:

  • You should definitely go with it, if it is a warm and uplifting story that will raise people’s spirits.
  • You should not do it if you are trying to bury bad news during a crisis. Infamously after the September 11th attacks in 2001 – Labour Aide Jo Moore said it was ‘A good day to bury bad news.” It was never forgotten.
  • Always ask the question: Is it really necessary, or can we wait? It is very difficult to get the same level of engagement during a crisis, and it’s not really worth it unless the story is good enough.
  • Analyse the media for the few days before you decide on a strategy to release your story. Tune in and figure out what is happening. Call some news desks and coupled with your own research ask these questions:
    • How are they covering other stories?
    • How much time are other stories getting?
    • What type of stories are they looking for? Sometimes during a crisis they look for uplifting stories to try and balance the mood.
    • Who is covering them? Is it the same reporter, or a roving shift?
  • Do you send a press release far and wide, or do you pick one journalist or media outlet to pitch it to? This is always the hardest one to answer. It depends. If a journalist will definitely run it and you are happy with the coverage it will get then pick that option. If you think that it will get wider coverage then that’s your choice. Remember if a pitch to one journalist goes badly you can recalibrate. If the press release goes badly the story is most likely dead in the water.

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