Beyond PR

Jun 27, 2012

Washington DC: Where News Stories Begin and How PR Can Take Advantage

The big story in the news this week (so far) has been the Supreme Court’s ruling on immigration.  It was the lead story on every news outlet in the country all day yesterday, with journalists analyzing and pontificating about the impact of the ruling, and looking for new angles, content, sources and perspective to provide context and opinion to their reporting.

Today’s papers, newscasts and web sites are all leading with speculation about tomorrow’s anticipated Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of healthcare.   Expect Friday’s news hole to be fully occupied with the fallout.

Undoubtedly, if you’re reading this blog, you’re aware of these news trends, because chances are pretty good that you keep your thumb on the pulse of the news.  But are you taking full advantage of the news and attention opportunities the US legislative process affords brands and organizations?

Bills and issues are debated daily when the Hill is in session, shaping news coverage nation- (and even world-) wide.  If your organization has an opinion relating to pending legislation or court rulings,  then you have an opportunity to garner some attention and coverage the point of view your organization supports.  How can you do this?

  • Engage your audience early, prior to the vote or ruling.  People who care will be talking about the outcome prior to its decision.
  • Offer an interesting story angle, such as how a ruling or decision will affect your industry or a specific type of worker.   If you have ‘the other side of the story,’ now is the time to tell it.
  • Convey your POV in social networks, blog posts and press releases.
  • Don’t forget the graphics.  If you can turn facts into pictures and illustrate a potential outcome, go on bended knee to your graphics person and get an infographic produced.
  • Tap your experts.  Identify and promote your organization’s experts.   Be sure key bloggers and journalists know about their availability.  A good way to garner free visibility for them is to create profiles on Profnet Connect, our community connecting subject matter experts with media and bloggers.
  • Even if you miss the boat and don’t get out in front of the story, all is not lost.   Journalists value thoughtful quotes and expert perspective.  As the dust is settling, issue a statement from your organization, including a quote from (and picture of!) a credible expert.    Media outlets will also be seeking stories about the ramifications of the outcome.  If your industry will be impacted, this is an additional opportunity for your organization’s voice to be heard.

A quick look at the wire last night showed that once again, PR Newswire clients are right in the thick of the story, issuing a broad array of press releases, statements, expert commentary and background information about the impending SCOTUS (that would be DC-speak for the “Supreme Court of the United States”) ruling, giving the news media, bloggers, government officials and social media pundits a wealth of fantastic quality content and access to experts to help them shape their stories.  Take a look.

Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the free ebook Unlocking Social Media for PR.

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