Try pitching something positive to newsrooms during the COVID-19 crisis

It hardly needs saying that it’s currently impossible to avoid the continuous breaking news and analysis about the coronavirus.

Newsrooms to PRs: Do you have anything… funny?
Newsrooms to PRs: Do you have anything… funny?

It’s dominated our media for weeks and the blanket coverage across traditional and social-media platforms is ongoing, with no end in sight while we are in this limbo, yet high-pressure, state.

Aside from how it is affecting the nation’s mental health and morale, what does this mean for those whose livelihoods depend on making sure their clients feature in the news media?

And what does it mean for news media outlets themselves, which are focused primarily, as they should be, on conveying public interest information, but whose editors are acutely aware that they also need to keep their readers entertained, engaged and feeling positive.

The last thing they want is for people to turn their backs on the news because it’s all become too much.

It goes without saying that we in the PR industry do not want this either.

So what does the media want in terms of content, and how can PRs help?

National newsdesks are desperate for bright, humorous and positive stories to help cut through all the doom and gloom.

Editors want relevant, resonant content that will lift the spirits of readers – be that by warming their cockles with something heartsy, or by making them LOL with something silly.

So amid the current news agenda, opportunities abound for brands and their PRs to develop stories of this type.

This isn’t about ambulance-chasing – trying to make a quick profit out of people’s fear and suffering.

It’s about creating content that people will find useful and that editors want to pepper their outlets with.

It’s worth thinking laterally and bearing in mind that this situation isn’t going to last forever.

So a brand awareness-raising job now, to keep spirits high, may well pay dividends once it’s business as usual again.

Brands should use the dearth of positive stories to their advantage and see it not just as an opportunity to sell, but as a service to the country at this very difficult time.

Keeping businesses going keeps the country going.

Harriet Scott is co-founder and MD of GingerComms and Perspectus Global

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