Amy Stern - 05/24/2022
4 Ways to Enhance the Value of Your Corporate Communications
Over the course of its existence, every business will have multiple opportunities to share exciting news: a product launch, new hire, strategic alliance, philanthropic partnership and more. But what determines if these brand-centric announcements resonate with media in a way that results in digital, print and broadcast placements?
Here are 4 pillars of newsworthiness you can deploy as a litmus test for what will resonate.
Relevance means appropriate to the current point in time. During the pandemic, most news outlets were using a very narrow porthole through which to view relevant pitches. For a potential story idea to resonate, it needed to tie to the pandemic in some way, shape or form. That meant that stories connected to the following topics were more likely to be considered newsworthy: healthcare, work from home (WFH), supply chain, social distancing, vaccines, food shortages, etc. With a hospital as one of our long-standing clients, we knew there would be many potential stories that related to the COVID-19 crisis, yet at the same time, our goal was to share some positivity during the pandemic rather than focusing on dire news.
During a “normal” news cycle, a story about an 80-year-old employee that was being honored for 60 years of service might have made the local newspaper, but with hundreds of patients hospitalized and fighting to survive, we knew we needed to create a story angle with more relevance. Instead of pitching the story as “’80-year-old employee celebrates 60 years of service,” we repositioned the story as “perfect attendance in a pandemic – a story about an 80-year-old employee still willing to go to work at the hospital where she served for the past 60 years, even if that was against the wishes of family members concerned about her risk for contracting COVID. Positioned this way, the story was more relevant as it illustrated the employee’s commitment and dedication to her job above and beyond expectations. This story had such relevance that not only did it receive local media coverage, but it was covered regionally by the NYC market, as well.
It’s critical that companies examine the current news climate before releasing what they deem to be important news. The possibility that Roe v. Wade might be overturned unleashed a torrent of news. It also provided a relevant opportunity for our client who is a workplace culture expert. She is an individual who has worked with a host of Fortune 500 companies providing strategic guidance to industry leaders on a variety of topics related to corporate culture and employee experience. As a result of interest in this story and the corporate response that followed, we were able to offer her for expertise and commentary regarding how corporations can navigate controversial topics in the workplace. Suggesting appropriate content for discussion like whether it’s possible to thrive in a workplace that conflicts with one’s personal values, the role of corporate advocacy for the long-term and a list of topics corporations should avoid all together, allowed us to use the current news cycle as a springboard to promote our client’s thought leadership capabilities.
Conflict and Crisis
Anytime there are topics dealing with conflict or crisis, there is an opportunity for newsworthiness. Conflicts that can have a broad impact include war, homelessness, politics and the economy. Whenever we can take these points of conflict and make them more relevant by illustrating their relevance locally or by offering a solution to the problem, we have a story ripe with media interest. Take for example, the plight of small businesses struggling to survive in the post-pandemic era. When our client, Westfield Garden State Plaza, announced they had partnered with the New Jersey Small Business Development Center to offer small businesses, specifically women- and minority-owned businesses a leg up, we had a big news story that led to local, regional and national coverage. It was a story that was relevant, timely and offered a solution to an existing problem.
Westfield Garden State Plaza is one of New Jersey’s largest and most popular shopping destinations, so the fact that “Goliath” was reaching out to assist “David” with resources that included marketing expertise and support with business plans and financing made for a problem-solution, underdog-overcoming-adversity success story that the press was eager to share. The story had such relevance that it was covered in New Jersey’s leading business publications, ROI-NJ, NJBIZ and New Jersey Business magazine, in addition to NorthJersey.com, NJ Spotlight News/NJ PBS and Forbes.
Often, it’s a story that’s counterintuitive that gets noticed. Take for example, New Jersey’s healthcare coverage during the pandemic. It was not uncommon to see the CEO’s and other key executives from New Jersey’s largest healthcare institutions featured on the nightly news or their commentary splashed across the pages of leading news sites. To successfully garner coverage for Saint Peter’s University Hospital, one of the few remaining independent hospitals in New Jersey, we pitched the media, “A Different Perspective,” with the opportunity to interview the hospital’s CEO to hear what it was like for a single, independent Catholic hospital to navigate the pandemic.
Our pitch began with the premise that there were countless news stories circulating as to how big healthcare systems were coping with the pandemic. We advocated for the value in understanding how a smaller hospital manages a crisis. For example, are the challenges the same as larger healthcare systems or even more taxing? Were there advantages to operating with less bureaucracy? This strategy succeeded in delivering two high-profile features with Saint Peter’s CEO as the center of it all.
Are you looking for strategic counsel to be sure your corporate news resonates in today’s competitive news environment? If so, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see how we can help. Sometimes the only thing preventing you from making headline news today is the PR team that’s been onboard since yesterday.