Photo by Alizee Baudez for Unsplash - hands on laptop

What’s Your Media Engagement Plan for a Crisis?

Oct 2, 2020
How are your press lists? Can you pre-draft op-eds? Are you thinking about Day Two stories?

Now that you have prepared your spokespeople and your internal organization to respond in a crisis, it’s time to look outwards. What’s your plan to engage the media when news breaks?

Do you have up-to-date press lists of breaking news desks/reporters? 

Every news outlet has someone assigned to “breaking news.” These may be editors who assign reporters or reporters who do not cover a single “beat” or issue. For breaking news, it is imperative to have an up-to-date press list of these journalists. They need to get updates, organizational statements, and in the case of TV, they need to get updates on good visuals that may help drive your narrative. 

ReThink Media partners can reach out to us for these lists.

Do you have up-to-date press lists of critical “beat” reporters? 

“Beat” reporters have more in-depth issue knowledge. While the contraction of the media means fewer “beat” reporters are out there, with predictable news cycles you should be able to determine who will be covering the story at priority outlets. Make sure your press list is 100% up to date and don’t rely on an old list. Usually there will also be reporters who have been assigned to a story, but new to you. Have someone on your team track coverage in real time and continuously update your list. 

Again, ReThink Media partners can reach out to us for these lists.

Is your leadership staff on a first name basis with your top priority journalists? 

The single best way for your organization to be quoted and for you to drive your narrative is to be well known to the journalists who will drive the story. Yours should be one of the first names they think of. That means that the months leading up to a predictable news cycle are the months to execute a strategy of personal outreach. A simple introductory phone call, or video chat, or a meeting over coffee can make all the difference, and most journalists are interested in developing sources. Ask ReThink for tips on how to make these meetings happen. 

Do you have a plan to pitch “day two” stories or angles on voting rights in the election (or relevant angle for the breaking issue)? 

In the immediate moment, the question of who won and who lost will dominate. But this will be followed by questions of who did and didn’t vote, what the election said about your community, and what the trends portend. Prepare your organization to quickly frame these secondary stories that address systems of inclusion and exclusion. 

Will you be ready with “plug and play” op-eds that can be adapted and pitched within 1-2 hours of polls closing (or news breaking)? 

Do you have relationships with the associated op-ed editors? Editors will have a vacuum to fill with immediate commentary and reflection. Getting these soonest requires planning. Consider the right angles for your organization and your message. Consider the most impactful and persuasive messengers. And reach out to op-ed editors, in advance, offering them rapid response commentaries. 

ReThink partners should reach out to us for updated tip sheets on writing, pitching, and promoting your op-ed.

Are you prepared to do video interviews from your office? Or record a message for social media? 

Even before the global pandemic, news outlets were increasingly doing interviews via Zoom, Google Hangout, and Skype because it is cost efficient and provides them access to a wider range of guests. Make sure you have a room available, that’s not too noisy and with an appropriate background. Alternatively, have one of your spokespeople record a short, simple, and on-message commentary and then push out the video with your social channels.

Check out Room Rater on Twitter for more ideas.


Next in this series on preparing for rapid response, we will discuss your social media plans.