How to Break Through the Clutter: Navigating a Crowded News Industry

December 10, 2020 | Zach Raczka

The news landscape has become increasingly cluttered, and news staffs certainly feel the effects of the crowded industry. Whether a reporter focuses on one topic or sifts through hundreds of pitch emails for a new story, newsrooms experience overload of potential topics to cover.

Public relations specialists provide expertise on how to break through the media clutter and effectively connect with reporters to provide newsworthy content, and it’s often not easy. Here are four key questions public relations experts should consider when thinking about how to break through the news clutter:

What is the current news environment?

Before pitching a reporter or producer, consider the stories media outlets are devoting time and resources. For example, COVID-19, the presidential election and social justice efforts dominated news in 2020. A pitch or news release at certain points of the year may have been missed or ignored because news teams only focused on a select few topics.

Always read, watch and listen to a variety of news sources to better understand where opportunities may be available. Sometimes, waiting until a current news cycle slows down can make all the difference for a media effort to break through the noise.

Can I make this media effort more timely?

Timeliness is one of the key components making a pitch, interview or release newsworthy. If your media effort is not gaining interest, think about how you can creatively connect the topic with current events. Look at the national news and see if your media effort makes sense to connect with a broader trend in your industry.

Look toward the future, as well. Consider what news outlets will cover in the next week or two. Think about upcoming significant events or announcements to connect to your pitch to potentially gain more interest. Public relations specialists should always think about how to make a media effort more timely and why the public needs to know about the organization’s news.

Will this still make sense in a week? A month?

Some pitches and news releases about events or your organization’s new initiatives may be time-sensitive and require immediate media outreach. But many media efforts, with some reworking, can have a longer life.

Consider how the media topic may still be relevant in a week or two. If your recent media outreach does not immediately break through, think about holding off for a period of time. Daily follow-up emails may only cause fatigue or indifference among reporters toward your pitch and may cause reporters to ignore future pitches. Patience and re-evaluation at a later date sometimes are important for a successful media effort.

Has it been done before?

Reporters and editors hate nothing more than receiving a pitch for a topic they recently covered. Make sure to read recent news coverage to check if the pitch makes sense for the reporter and if they have already highlighted on a similar topic.

Time spent on a pitch about a topic already covered wastes the reporter’s time that is better spent on finding new stories and your time better spent on identifying new potential media targets.

Media relations teams should consistently monitor local and national news and think about how to adjust their media efforts to current events, and, sometimes, exercising patience is essential to an effective pitch or news release. A cluttered news landscape should encourage PR experts to think strategically about how to break through and reach its target audience.

To learn about how the AKCG team can support your organization in breaking through the media clutter, contact us