Summer is in full swing. And as folks flee their offices for family vacations — or just any old reason to use some accumulated time off — some businesses may experience a bit of a summer slowdown.

News reporters, as you might imagine, experience the summer slowdown acutely. While you’re getting pummeled with out-of-office replies and voicemail recordings, they may be calling everyone on their contact list to try to find news that’s worth covering. This makes the summer months an ideal time to think proactively about media relations and how you can help your business, or your clients’ businesses, by helping a reporter.

Here are a few tips for boosting your media relations efforts during the summer months:7650804342_9715bb425f_erin blog

1. Meet a reporter for coffee. I’ve said it before: Relationships rule when it comes to working with reporters. Even if you don’t have news to share right now, many reporters will be open to meeting at convenient location for a quick cup of coffee and a chance to catch up about anything happening at your company or in your industry. These meetings can be educational for the reporter, and they build a foundation for working together in the future.

2. Make introductions. If you help a reporter connect to other people they may find interesting or helpful, you’ll simultaneously enhance your relationship with that writer. If you meet for coffee, ask them if there is anyone you can help connect them
to. Better yet, come to the meeting armed with a couple of names you think they should know. If the reporter makes a good connection, chances are he or she will call you again.

3. Do some brainstorming. Have you ever picked up the newspaper during the summer, flipped through it, and wondered why there wasn’t anything to read? You can help reporters find compelling stories by doing a little brainstorming of your own. Think of a good topic or two that you think might make for an interesting story and pass them along. The story ideas don’t have to — and in fact, should not — be all about your business. But perhaps there is an industry or community issue or trend that you think might make for an interesting feature story. Pass it along and win some points for chipping in.

4. Think about timing. If you actually have an honest-to-goodness piece of news to share during the summer months, consider how you might be able to use the summer slowdown to your advantage. Many companies want to avoid issuing news during the days or week surrounding holidays like the 4th of July or Labor Day, for fear that nobody will see it. That type of thinking makes holiday weeks particularly painful for reporters who are looking for news, and it may make them more likely to give second-rate news the star treatment (or at least give a little attention to a news item that, on a busier day, they might overlook completely). And remember, even if most of your audience is at the beach, they’re probably checking news on their phones, or browsing social media – where you should be posting links to all your positive news coverage!

Remember, the summer months can be a slow time in the news business. As a former reporter, my advice to you is, if you’re facing a summer slowdown of your own, take advantage of the opportunity to help a reporter and bolster your media relationships.