Pitching During #Sandy: What You Need to Know

This week has been difficult for many people on the East Coast due to the Sandy “superstorm.” Homes and business have seen destruction, people’s lives have been uprooted, and emergency workers are working 24/7 to get cities and towns across the coast back to a normal, working state. In the wake of the storm, it’s important that we are understanding of the situation as we go about our daily work. As PR pros, we are constantly in contact with clients, reporters, vendors, and other people in our field, and during this time, we need to remain sensitive in our communications and act accordingly.

Between the storm and the upcoming election on November 6, it’s going to be difficult to find an appropriate place for your brand’s messages in the shuffle of the news cycle. Newsrooms aren’t really concerned with anything but stories directly related to the storm, and that’s especially the case for us NYC-based PR pros. In the midst of a national disaster, do you really think you should be pitching your new makeup line or the “hottest shoe trends for 2013?” Didn’t think so.

That said, we still need to do our jobs, so here are a few things you need to keep in mind while you’re conducting media relations this week:

1. Be realistic.

We know that newspapers, online outlets, and TV/radio stations across the country are focusing on both the storm and the election, and not much else. As you’re working to find that appropriate space for your message, make sure that you’re transparent and set the expectation that coverage may be affected as a result of these events. Educate management. Redefine November goals and metrics. Be transparent about resources. Setting the proper expectation now will allow your team to be successful.

2. Do not try to insert your story into the Sandy coverage…

…Unless it’s absolutely applicable (or helpful).

It’s important to be sensitive about the situation. Trying to insert your story into the storm coverage in a roundabout way is not going to end well; if anything, it’ll land you here. Between now and the election, getting into top business press will be difficult for many. Instead, if applicable to your client, identify top publications in priority verticals that are less likely to cover the storm or the election. You’ll still be getting fantastic coverage for your client without upsetting reporters who are covering the national issues at hand.

3. Use this time to prepare for post-election pitching.

While we’re all in a bit of a standstill with the media, use this time to organize and update your media lists, write a few byline abstracts, and determine a strategy for post-election pitching. You’ll be happy you did once November 7th rolls around.

What is your pitching strategy around the Sandy storm? I’m interested to hear your thoughts. Post your comments below.