Getting press during the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough. Media gatekeepers only want to hear about the pandemic, but media gatekeepers and readers are already flooded with COVID-related news, opinions, and updates.
You have to stand out. Here are three ways companies large and small have managed to do exactly that.
The media loves an underdog. One of the amazing things to come out of the pandemic is how many companies which would have closed have survived by changing their business model.
A popular example of this is distilleries which are making hand sanitizer. One of our favorite stories is that of USA Tractor Cabs. Declared “non-essential,” the company was about to close until owner Rick Short realized that his tractor cab covers could become medical masks. Within weeks, he had sold more than 10,000 masks and secured coverage with the local ABC affiliate.
Short’s story is just one of many — but in his area, he was unique. And the media rewarded him for it.
Putting customers and staff first
One of the worst stereotypes about large businesses is that they are only focused on money — not the humans who are both customers and staff. Waste disposal company Republic Services proved that they put people first when they spent $20 million to give 28,000 employees meals purchased through local restaurants. These front-line staff were given two meals each week as well as $100 gift cards biweekly for spending at local restaurants.
Republic’s decision to put staff and local businesses before profits earned it excellent local and state press around the country. The same was true for America’s largest car insurers, who returned more than six billion in profits to customers. The media response has been massive, giving StateFarm, Geico, and the rest publicity they couldn’t buy.
Putting people before profits feels good, does good, and looks great. And, just as with USA Tractor Cabs being unique, the press is eating it up.
Donate to help your local community
If your company has the savings and other infrastructure to donate during the pandemic, please do it. Like Republic’s assistance to staff, it does a lot of good. And as San Antonio-based Cured Printing Company proved, it can get you solid press.
Cured Printing saw local small businesses collapsing and wanted to help. They created a special pandemic-related set of shirts and offered $10 from every shirt to a local small business of the customer’s choice. They told us on May 13 that customers have bought 130 coronavirus shirts, facilitating $1,300 in local donations.
The press is there; here’s how to get it
You don’t need to be a major corporation to get valuable press. What you need is:
- A unique story with a great impact — such as dollars donated, sales numbers, or people helped.
- The right outlets. CNBC and Forbes are already flooded with stories; go after local, regional, and industry outlets which are desperate to showcase good news during dark times.
- The right gatekeepers. Should you contact a reporter or an editor at a newspaper, a host at a radio station, or a producer at the TV station? Find the right gatekeeper and then tailor your story to their preferences.
- Create a great subject line to draw gatekeepers’ attention to your unique story.
- Don’t give up. Sometimes, getting in the press takes time.
Getting in the press is a great first step to great publicity. The next step is to create the megaphone effect. Tag the outlet on social media, send to your newsletter, and let your team know that their work is getting noticed.