How to Take Advantage of Breaking News


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When news breaks in your industry, reporters scurry to find experts who can put the matter into perspective. As an industry insider, you may qualify. Call reporters when you hear of breaking news and discuss how you think the news will affect the industry. This strategy can benefit you in several ways:

• You can gain coverage for yourself, your company and possibly your product. If you are quoted, you will be identified by name, title and company – and possibly a company positioning statement. For instance:

“This ruling spells trouble for the industry because it will put a chilling effect on research and development,” said Sarah Scott, Vice President of Marketing for Modern Medicine, a leading manufacturer of pharmaceuticals.

• You build rapport with reporters because you’ve done them a favor. The next time news breaks, they may call you.

• You may be perceived as an industry leader or expert. After all, you must be important otherwise the press wouldn’t quote you.

Here is a system to utilize this strategy:

• Identify spokespersons from your company.

• Discuss the benefits and opportunities for publicity with your spokespersons. Some officials may not be familiar with the company’s promotional objectives, or may be wary or afraid of speaking to reporters.

• Send your list of spokespersons (complete with titles, desk phone numbers and home phone numbers) to reporters, along with a cover letter explaining that these people would be delighted to comment on the selected topics, such as marketing or legal issues. (See the News Commenting Worksheet that follows.)

• Watch the morning television news shows, listen to news radio, and/or subscribe to a news monitoring service such as Dow Jones News Service or Financial News Network that can alert you to industry news. These services are available through several on-line services like CompuServe, MCI Mail, America Online and MSN.

• Check the news twice a day (morning and mid-afternoon).

• Have one of your spokespersons call reporters when news breaks.

Possible news commenting opportunities include each of the topic categories described earlier in this chapter. If you stay on top of news and make your company accessible, you will build strong relationships with reporters, and get the publicity you want and need.