Quick Tips for Staying on Top Of Today’s Busy News Cycle

In communications, it is imperative that we’re always consuming news. Whether it’s monitoring where our clients are being mentioned, what competitors are up to, or general trends – being voracious media consumers makes us great at what we do.

One recent example was a colleague’s reactive pitch on water-saving advice in advance of the Bay Area’s (nowadays, rare) rain storm. By jumping in the news cycle and offering a few tips for viewers to save some of this rain in the middle of the California drought, she was able to lock in a one-minute segment during the 11 p.m. news, reaching a top tier demographic in a key market. This, to me, is the crème de la crème of smart media relations skills.

Being in a field that’s driven by a 24/7 news cycle and constant content creation, however, makes it difficult to stay up on the news in addition to meeting other deadlines. Here are a few tips that can prove helpful:

  • Read the newspaper every morning. Create your own customized Flipboard or listen to NPR during your morning commute. Even if you read or listen to a few key highlights, you’ll take note of new media contacts and it may even get you thinking about ways you can weave your client’s expertise into the news cycle. The example above is a great case in point.
  • Scan the headlines and outlets as well as make note of any key events before you pitch. If there’s a breaking news story that’s all over CNN and the local news, it’s probably best to hit pause on that lifestyle pitch until it dies down. Media won’t read your pitches and may take an annoyed note of your name if you’re ignorantly pitching during a major tragedy. I learned the hard way when pitching a restaurant’s new menu to local lifestyle media – right as the Virginia Tech massacre news was all over TV.
  • Subscribe to breaking news alerts. I subscribe to USA Today’s breaking news alerts, which send notification of any major story immediately – potentially with news you may be able to leverage on a local level for a client. It’s also helpful to keep up on the monthly jobs report, too.


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