he recent news that Business Day is to shed 10 jobs, all in the newspaper’s sub-editors department, placed further focus on the state of newsrooms in South Africa. As mentioned in this previous blog post and this one as well, newsrooms are facing various challenges and disruptions – most noticeably being forced to retrench and do more with less.
As PR professionals we need to work together with newsrooms to ensure quality content is produced. When a client thus has an important event they would like media to attend, it’s important to keep the following three rules in mind:
Instead of sending your event invitation to your entire media list, research your top publications to see where you can best position your brand and who will be interested in what they have to say.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Does this publication feature content similar to my news? It’s important to match your brand and your news to publications that feature similar content. One easy way to determine this, is to see whether they have previously published news from your organisation – or from a competitor.
Do I have the correct person on my distribution list? It’s no use sending the invitation to the Beauty Editor when your news relates to the News Editor. Your email will end up being deleted, without having been forwarded to the correct person.
Is your contact person location in the same geographical area as your event? Imagine the embarrassment when you send that invitation to someone in Durban when your event is taking place in Cape Town.
The timing of your event is another important rule to remember. News is fluid and journalists chase headlines. If your event is thus taking place on the same day as an event of national importance, chances are the newsrooms will be unable to attend your event. As an example, launching a new forum at your event may be seen as important. But if your event is taking place on the same day as the State of the Nation Address, don’t expect journalists to attend it.
Just because it’s important to the industry, doesn’t mean it’s newsworthy to journalists.
Don’t count your chickens
As mentioned, news if fluid. Even if a journalist confirms their attendance to your event, anything may happen that could be of more importance to them, and the headline they’re chasing. For this reason we advise clients to ensure a press release is available, and as far possible, audio visual content to accompany the release.
PR agencies should guide clients through these practical tips. This way agencies provide value to both their clients, as well their media contacts.