With a hurricane bearing down on the Eastern Seaboard, and a contentious national election just over a week away, any PR pitches that aren’t directly about the news will get lost in the shuffle.
Even if your pitch is somehow related to the breaking news, there is still a good chance that it will not see the light of the day. Tell your client that the news is so big that New York City closed its mass transit and school systems in preparation for the massive storm expected to blast much of the eastern third of the country.
Newsrooms nationwide, and particularly those east of the Mississippi River, are singularly focused on Hurricane Sandy and the deluge that is expected to come with it. The reporters who are not working on hurricane coverage are assigned to stories examining what the hurricane will mean for the Nov. 6 general election.
The two stories together make it a perfect storm for news. Having been in a newsroom within several hundred miles of a hurricane, I can tell you that everyone
becomes a news reporter. If you were covering pie bake-offs last week, this week you are covering how restaurants are preparing for the storm.
The story line for the storm goes like this: preparation stories, the live coverage of when the hurricane hits, the mop-up and rebuilding stories. In all, we’ve got at least a solid week of coverage. It is a great lead-in for the Nov. 6 election.
The hashtags trending on Twitter today are a great indication of what we can expect to see in the news: #Sandy, #FEMA, #frankenstorm, #nyc, #newjersey and #eastcoast.
Here are some exceptions for pitches that might make the news this week:
• Your client is helping communities to prepare for and recover from the storm by offering support or practical tips;
• Your client is Home Depot or Lowe’s or a major utility;
• You represent a law enforcement agency or government agency dealing directly with the storm.
• Your client is in New Mexico and you’re pitching to a Santa Fe news outlet (or a scenario comparably removed from Hurricane Sandy).
If you’re not on this list, but you still want to send your release or make a pitch to reporters, I wish you good luck, because you’re going to need it.
Gil Rudawsky heads up the crisis communication and issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. He is a former reporter and editor. Read his blog or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.