Media Pitching in the Age of Coronavirus – Should We? Or Shouldn’t We?

pablo - 2020-03-17T230949.196 March 18, 2020

As we navigate these uncharted waters together, PR pros, we have questions.

One question I see coming up a lot is – can I pitch the media my non-virus related news? Or should I hold off for fear of overwhelming journalists or the news getting lost in the flood of COVID19 stories?

As fellow public relations professionals continued to ask me about this – and I was also wondering – I decided to take the question to Twitter to ask journalists and communicators for their take.

The responses were mixed. Let’s look at some replies on both sides of the issue.

Yes, You SHOULD Pitch Non-Virus Related Stories

Some journalists were in favor of public relations professionals continuing to pitch their news and story ideas.

“My magazine works several months out, so I am very much reading pitches. Haven’t gotten a press release in a week or so–still need them. So go go go!” said Kim Fernandez of Parking & Mobility, @IPMInow.

“Not all journalists are reporting hard news, and we need other kinds of content. I write about #CX, fashion and tech. I need to keep doing my job. Pitch,” advised Shane Schick, @shaneschick, founder of 360 Magazine.

Kellee Johnson, @KelleeJohnson, founder of Ballast Group, commented, “@PCC_Chicago panel healthcare journalists said try to tie stories to the current crisis but don’t stop sending unrelated great stories. Timing on hold but a good story is a good story.”

JenTimeCity Consulting, @jentimecity, communications and PR consultant, brought up a valid point. “I really hope stories keep being reported/written unrelated to the global crisis. Of course, we all need to stay informed, but if that’s all the content we’re getting, we’ll either endlessly panic or become desensitized – both very bad.”

“Continuing the release of various content not only keeps spirits up but breaks up the flooding of the same constant stories and gives those in quarantine something fresh. Journalists of all genres are definitely needed in this time of crisis,” shared Katie Kresic, @Katie_Kresic, a graduate student majoring in public relations.

“The world could use a little less COVID-19. Niche and mainstream publications need content not related to the pandemic,” Jennifer Brown, @Tollermom, writer and editor, said.

Maybe It’s OK to Pitch Non-Virus Related Stories

Then there were some who say it depends.

“I think it probably depends on the pitch, audience, topic. For industry/vertical specific pubs, you would think they would still be interested in content…but we also have no insight into the impact Coronavirus has had on their operations,” said Matt Falso, PR and branding pro, @mfalso02.

Annie Thorpe, @Annie_Writes_, freelance SEO writer for professional services, shared, “Speaking with a few journos & PRs, it seems some things are still worth pitching – namely joyous news, small breaks, interesting pieces that aren’t hard-hitting journalism. If you’ve got a serious piece that’s taken years of research, hold – or it’ll get lost. Fun pieces – do it!”

“Like many of the comments here suggest, it depends. On the pitch and outlet. There’s a need both for hard news in response — and also some levity, life, biz and sense of normalcy. Life goes on,” said Frank Strong, founder and president of Sword and the Script Media, LLC.

No, Do Not Pitch Your News

On the other side of the issue, I saw responses like this:

“HOLD. We are inundated. I’d say reassess next week,” says Hayleigh Colombo, @hayleighcolombo, of Columbus Business First.

John Russell, @JohnRussell99, of the Indiana Business Journal, had this to say. “Absolutely no bandwidth for anything else right now. My editor would laugh in my face if I pitched a widget story this week, or possibly this month.”

Brynn Harris-Hamm, @Brynn_H, a former producer, anchor and reporter, advises holding off. “Your message will be lost in the mix and put at the very bottom of the pile. Even if reporters are initially interested, health coverage takes priority, is always evolving and there are news conferences from all levels of government each day dominating news coverage.”

“I’m not taking pitches on anything unrelated to the impact Coronavirus is having on my industry (sports) right now,” says Kristi Dosh, @SportsBizMiss, a reporter for Forbes.

And finally, Gregory Bailey, @gbaileycom, co-founder of InsureVC, shared, “Great question. I don’t think there is ever a ‘right’ answer on this. Part gut, part intuition. You’ll just know when it feels right. But yeah, to me, now doesn’t feel like the right time to be launching a new product or campaign.”

Be Patient As We Adjust to This New Normal

Journalists, how do you feel about this issue? Should we pitch?

PR pros, are you actively pitching stories?

Adjusting to the new normal will take some time, but I’m confident journalists and PR pros will learn to roll with it as they go along.

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About the author: You’ll find Michelle Messenger Garrett at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. As a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and freelance writer, Michelle’s articles and advice have been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Muck Rack, Ragan’s PR Daily, Meltwater, ThomasNet, FairyGodBoss, Freelancers Union and more.

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