The year 2020 has been, to say the least, very complex. And it’s brought with it a very complex news cycle. The COVID-19 pandemic. Elections. Social justice. Economic recession. It’s critical these crises and conversations be heard. Even the holiday season, as welcome as it is, brings challenges especially for those of us who are not in the retail space.
All of this can also make it difficult for marketers and PR professionals trying to get their own news out. So how do you get your news, product, or service heard in a complex and “noisy” news cycle? Here are five tips:
1. Be persistent.
And consistent. And patient. Especially this year, we are further challenged in capturing the attention of our audiences, who themselves are juggling so many of their own needs, both personal and professional.
The “Rule of 7” is an old adage stating your audience has to see your message seven(ish) times before they take action. These days, that seven may need to increase. The good news is there are many diverse vehicles through which to reach our audiences, and using consistent messaging throughout can help lead to familiarity and engagement.
2. Be targeted.
It’s more important than ever to have a thorough understanding of your target audience – who they are, how they consume media, what messaging and calls to action will resonate with them the most. This will help you cut through the clutter and speak directly to who you are trying to reach, helping to create a more effective and efficient campaign.
In PR, we research reporters and pitch them very directly to their areas of work. In B2B and B2C marketing, we use quantitative and qualitative data to create consumer profiles, journey maps, media strategies, and key performance indicators (KPIs) for measurement.
3. Tie into national (or local) conversations.
But only where appropriate. If your news has a connection to COVID, the elections, social justice reform, or another current affair, certainly make that tie-in known. Tying into the current news is a great strategy.
However, always beware of stretching the connection too far. If you have it force it, you may come across as insincere or opportunistic. I recently saw a business ad referencing COVID that said “we’re here to help,” but when I went to learn more, the ad was a coupon for $10 off a $100 purchase. This seemed a bit off-key. While there was no malice at all in this ad, it is one that could easily be misconstrued given the emotion around and the magnitude of the pandemic’s crisis.
4. Why, why, why.
In addition to “what” your message is, clearly articulate “why” it is important. Why should someone care or take action? What does it mean for your audience (the reporter, your clients, your prospective clients)? Everything we as human beings do is a combination to varying degrees of the emotional and the logical. Lead with a compelling “why” and the rest (“who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “how”) will follow.
5. Be authentic and empathetic
Wow, it’s been a tough year for all of us. We are challenged with so much more in our lives than ever before. One element of hope and unity? We’re all experiencing something completely unique together like no one ever will before or after us. There’s comradery in this shared experience. It’s ok (and it’s right) to be empathetic, give grace, and acknowledge our collective struggle. It’s ok to even share a few laughs (when and where appropriate). Bring humanity to your work and people will respond.
We can’t always (ok, never) control the news and messaging around us. But we can look for ways to connect with our audiences and share our own news creatively and authentically. Of course, we’re always here to help, too. Just give us a shout.