It’s rare to scroll through your news or social media without coming across a coronavirus-related story. When the news cycle is dominated by a global health crisis, discusses on racial injustice and whatever else 2020 has thrown at us, we’re left with the question: How do you stand out in a vicious news cycle and get your brand’s message heard?

To gain insight into how brands can stay relevant, the PR Club tapped some of the leading pros in the industry and asked them to share advice for cutting through the noise. Here’s a recap on the tips and tricks for communicators to break through the noise of the current news cycle.

Panelists included:

  • Malcolm Johnson, Reporter at NBC Boston
  • Drew Oliveira, Digital Marketing Manager at Little Gem Resorts
  • Melissa Mahoney, Senior Vice President & Crisis Communications Practice Lead at V2
  • Moderator: Nicole Metro, Account Director at V2

How has the past year impacted each of you and the way you worked with clients and audiences.

Malcom Johnson (MJ) – We had to keep our head on a swivel and focus on all the news coming in. You really have to slow things down as much as you possibly can so that you can give each news story all it deserves.

Drew Oliveira (DO) – It was a very bleak spring in hospitality. We used social media as a vehicle to tug on some nostalgia heart strings and we used influencers pretty heavily to get our messages out and tell the story to make a memorable summer.

Melissa Mahoney (MM) – We represent brands, our job is to raise the visibility of the companies that we work with and every company needs to respond appropriately to each issue knowing their brands will be evaluated by the world.

Based on your experiences, how can we apply lessons learned and apply them to help guide communicators to tackle these issues in the future?

DO –We have a strong community and used social media and email to focus on individuals on the island. We kept our large database of guests engaged, involved, and interacting with our brand in a time where they could not necessarily be with us.

MJ- Establishing relationships with assignment desks and journalists is key. Offer us something we can use that is readily available to help us easily tell a story. Be timely and use concise subject lines with an easy to read and simple message that is current and relevant.

What are some mistakes you’ve seen from some companies?

DO – Being reactive instead of proactive is something I would advise against. When things opened up we were as invigorated as ever and did not take the backseat and wait for the world to solve itself.

MM – Not going silent during these issues is important. Being cognizant about the decisions we make and how they may be perceived is different now from a year ago.

What kinds of subject headlines for pitches do get your attention normally?

MJ – short and to the point! Things like catchy phrases or questions in the subject line catch my attention.

Is there such a thing as COVID-fatigue when it comes to the news cycle and would fresh topics be welcomed by journalists?

MJ – The fact is, when you watch the news – the first 12 minutes will be COVID centered. So you can pitch other stories, but you won’t find many reporters who pitch that story in their editorial meeting.

Do you prefer when a pitch connects to a recent article you’ve covered to make a personal connection or would you rather the pitch get straight to the point?

MJ – For me it is just to get to the point. If you do work with me, I don’t mind texting and emailing on the side to stay in my network to build a relationship and I can say that most reporters would feel that way.