To Pitch or not to Pitch - What COVID-19 Means for Media Relations

A look at what the media is covering to get direction on how we should proceed

To pitch or not to pitch – that is the question. The thing is, that is always the question. In an ever-evolving media landscape, media relations practitioners are constantly questioning themselves and the landscape before they go out with a pitch. On a good day, you or your agency will wonder – is now the right time? Is this the best time of day? Is this the right reporter? So. Many. Questions.

The silver lining: if you or your agency are good at trusting your gut, have solid relationships and understand how the media works, you have been training for moments like these your whole career. Though the COVID-19 crisis presents its own unique challenges, the questions are still the same and primarily boil down to – is this news relevant to this reporter currently?

Let’s look at what the media is covering to get direction on how we should proceed. They are covering ALL things COVID-19. The first step should be to assess whether you can offer a relevant and practical viewpoint on COVID-19. First and foremost, the media is looking for experts and resources, as well as human stories about the impacts of the coronavirus. They are looking at every angle – from health to sports, parenting, education and more. Are you a wedding planner who can weigh in on the impact of postponed plans? Are you a business or nonprofit that is doing something to help the community? Do you speak Spanish or Creole (as many outlets are noting a lack of bilingual experts to reach multicultural audiences)? The pitch needs to be relevant or risks coming off as tone-deaf and insincere, or worse, trying to capitalize on a crisis. When in doubt if it is relevant enough (or at all), don’t send it out – or you risk ending up in a journalist’s Twitter feed.

And if you do not have a relevant angle? Media understands that people need a break from purely COVID-19 stories, and there may still be opportunities to cut through the clutter. Consider publications that may be covering the pandemic less closely, like lifestyle magazines and trade publications. The latter will cover the effects of COVID-19, but it will be less likely that they devote 100 percent of their staff to the ever-changing situation. The former runs on a much longer lead time and often includes content that is much more upbeat and planned.

There are plenty of reporters on Twitter right now shaming PR reps for being tone-deaf and out of touch. Conversely, there are plenty that are asking for content – noting their readers do not want only COVID-19 news. There is certainly room, albeit less room, for strategic and quality pitches.

Knowing when and how to move forward in a difficult media and social landscape is the job of an expert. It is more critical than ever to have a conscientious communicator as part of your team, crisis or not. The Moore team is helping brands from all industries navigate the ever-changing landscape – we can apply our proven strategies to your brand to ensure you cut through the complexities and emerge as a stronger, relevant organization.