I know what you’re thinking: what is rapid response, why is it so important to me and how rapid are we talking?

Reporters are working in a fast paced environment and when major news hits, they need expert commentary on a variety of topics; that’s where you come in. This is especially true when a major data breach occurs, there is a disruptive product announcement or a competitor goes IPO. Watch what’s trending and that can act as your guide.

Commenting on breaking industry news builds a spokesperson’s credibility in the industry while improving brand awareness. Big name reporters are more likely to post your commentary in their latest news article than they are to pick up your release. Even better, readers are more likely to debate, discuss and read the article when it’s about hard-hitting news.

And while there is no scientific answer or magic solution to getting placement, implementing a rapid response program has the ability to establish your industry leaders as experts within the space.

Stay on top of news

Two eyes are better than one so train your team members to monitor for appropriate news. Here are a few ways to quickly monitor the news without wasting away huge amounts of time:

  1. When news hits reporters are likely to tweet about it right away. Keep your browser open at all times and keep an eye out for Twitter notification on the tab. Caution: if you are following a lot of accounts, this may get unwieldy. You may either need to skim down or find another approach. Also ensure you are following influencers in the space.
  2. Download the TechNewsTube. TechNewsTube aggregates trending articles from major publications so you can quickly scan the news. While great for ‘on the go’ browsing, use with caution as news comes in so frequently, it can be easy to miss critical announcements.
  3. Regularly search (or task someone with regularly searching) keywords that may lead to big ticket news items. While Google Alerts can take hours to show up – they show up very quickly on the Google News page. For example, with security accounts, you can regularly do a quick Google News search for hack, breach, vulnerability – you get the picture.

Which reporters?

While a buttoned up media list serves as a great reference point, don’t be afraid to move outside of those boundaries. And while it’s important to send commentary to those targeted reporters who come to expect it, feel free to identify additional reporters.

Keep an eye on similar announcements. For example: if someone covered the Target breach, they will likely cover the Home Depot breach, if someone covered the recent OPM breach they will likely cover the Army’s website getting hacked. Focusing on news provides the opportunity to reach reporters who may not already be on your radar.

Working at the speed of light

Reporters are working at the speed of light to get their article out even faster than other publications pushing out the same story. So what does that matter? Speed is important…real important! As a general rule of thumb, if it’s not the same day of the breach – it’s probably too late.

Develop commentary that stands out

I know your first instinct is to work with company spokespeople to develop templated, pre-approved content to make the process of sending out commentary even faster. Don’t do it! I promise if it works, it’ll be rare. Reporters are looking for commentary that really discusses (pro or con) the news in depth. They’ll see right past that template.

Don’t be afraid to speak out

The ballsier you can make the commentary, the more it will get picked up. Reporters are looking for statements that are on the controversial side. Spokespeople should dive into what’s to come from the news announcement and what it means for the industry. They should add any insight from their own personal experience with customers. Experience is what will make spokespeople stand out among the thousands of emails reporters receive.

Make your pitch short, pithy, and to the point

There is no pre-set formula, no word count you should or should not be hitting, but when developing commentary make sure it gets to the point as briefly as possible. That’s not to say long commentary will not be placed, but if you’re sending long commentary, it better all be golden.

Your pitch should be short and to the point. For example: “XYZ was breached, here is some commentary from John Smith the CSO of Smith and Company” is really all you need. Reporters get thousands of emails a day – the shorter you make the upfront note, the better chance the reporter will read it.

Make reporters with follow up questions high priority

On a good day, reporters might reply with follow up questions. Consider this a blessing – you worked hard and a reporter is now really expressing interest in your commentary.

If possible, put their requests above all others. They need to see the spokesperson as a reference and don’t want to have to keep searching. If you drop everything to meet their request, they’ll likely come back for more later on down the line.

Ready, set, go!

Rapid response programs are a great way to establish relationships with targeted reporters. If you are able to connect a journalist who is most likely on deadline, quickly with a credible expert, then you have the opportunity to build strong relationships. Feel free to use those experts time and time again for future, related news stories. In a bit of time, rapid response can become the ultimate gift that just keeps on giving.