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Ignorance is Not Bliss in the World of Public Relations

As any true PR pro can attest to, ignorance is definitely not bliss in our industry. The best thing we can do for our clients is to make sure that we are knowledgeable on anything and everything going on in the world, whether it’s in regards to the political sphere, the business community or general pop culture. Each morning, I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour catching up on the day’s current events. As a millennial, this means that instead of picking up the daily newspaper, I’m perusing my Twitter feed, reading the daily Daily Skimm e-Newsletter, and scanning through all of the morning shows while eating breakfast. While this may not sound like tough work, I consider this to be one of the most important aspects of my job and an essential component to building successful media strategies and drafting pitches that reporters are actually interested in. At the end of the day, no matter how creative an idea might be, if it’s not timely it likely won’t land your client the homerun media placements we’re always working to secure.

Every election year, while normal people are glued to their TVs waiting to get updates on their candidates, us PR peeps are staring at our calendars counting down the minutes until Election Day. Why? Because elections dominate the news, plain and simple. Last year, while pitching national broadcast media, I managed to get a producer of Morning Joe on the phone. I pitched him my idea, and he responded that while it was a great idea, they had Donald Trump on that morning and said, “to be honest, we likely won’t be covering anything else until the election is over.” Keep in mind that this was in 2015. I’m pretty sure I hung up the phone and rolled my eyes so hard I saw my brain. I thought to myself, how the heck am I supposed to get national coverage for my clients if they aren’t Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders?!

That day, I learned a valuable lesson in the importance of tying pitches to timely events. This is especially true in today’s current political climate. Typically, elections wrap up and the media slows down its coverage of the winning candidate in the months leading up to inauguration day. Sure, they’ll still do a daily story or two on what can be expected or maybe some cabinet selections, but they move on. However, as we all know the 2016 election was far from typical, and we are now experiencing a strange new era of media where CNN spends 45 minutes dissecting the President-elect’s latest Tweet. Whether or not the media should be spending so much time on Trump’s Twitter page when his administration hasn’t even began yet is a LONG conversation we can save for another day, but regardless this is our reality and we have to adjust our strategies accordingly. This is the new normal, and we can’t beat ‘em – we have to join ‘em.

The easiest way to achieve this is to simply pay attention to what’s going on in the world around us. When Donald Trump appointed Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants and an IFA board member, as his labor secretary, I immediately tweaked a pitch I’ve been working on and weaved in information about how his appointment will impact the franchising industry. Just adding a few simple sentences elevated my pitch and gave it a strong, timely angle. Similarly, after reading on Bloomberg that McDonald’s was investing heavily in its rollout of kiosk technology, I sent out a pitch linking our client BurgerFi’s use of kiosks to the story, and got them into a recent MarketWatch piece on the importance of implementing technology. If I hadn’t been paying attention to the news, I never would have known about McDonald’s and would have lost my client an excellent placement.

Ultimately, all of our clients have exciting things going on, but when it comes to national media, one innovative product or fantastic offer usually isn’t enough to get a feature piece. It’s our job to take what our clients give us to work with, and weave them into a creative story angle that reporters will actually be interested in covering. While identifying industry trends and timely current events can be like finding a needle in a haystack, once we do find the perfect fit for our clients, we have all the tools we need to spin it into PR gold. The first step in achieving this will always be staying in the know and remembering that when it comes to the world of PR, ignorance is not bliss.