While the planner in me loves a thoughtfully crafted earned media campaign, with organized planning and plenty of time to prepare, in reality, we don’t always have the luxury of time to diligently get all our ducks in a row. Sometimes, to maximize an opportunity, all this strategizing needs to be condensed into a short period to take advantage of a timely event, news or trend. But when this happens there’s certainly a satisfying feeling (not to mention adrenaline rush).
In November, we worked with our client Minnesota Grown to share the story about a Minnesota Grown Christmas tree farm that had the honor of providing trees and wreaths to the Vice President’s residence in Washington, D.C. While Happy Land Tree Farms earned this distinction in August at the National Christmas Tree and Wreath Contest, the logistics came together just days before the honorable tree needed to be cut down.
With an inflexible deadline to get the tree on the road to D.C. and a passion for sharing this unique story about the first Minnesota tree to earn this distinction, we got to work. In around 48 hours, we crafted and distributed a media advisory inviting journalists to attend the tree cutting event, arranged early morning live shots and coordinated several interviews. The day of the event, we supported Minnesota Grown’s on-location staffer and fielded media requests throughout the day. Our efforts resulted in more than 20 placements including WCCO-TV, KARE 11, KSTP, FOX 9, Star Tribune, WCCO-AM and more.
While a story like this doesn’t come around every day, there are ways to capitalize on opportunities when they do arise. Here are some best practices for maximizing efforts and results for short-turn campaigns.
- Think like a journalist. Is this a first? A milestone? An anniversary? What is the news angle? And why does this story matter now? Be sure to answer these questions in your initial outreach to pique journalists’ interest.
- Prioritize efficiency. Especially when time is of the essence, evaluate when you need to wait to have all the details ironed out, and when you need to just hit send. Having the what, when, where and why answered often is enough for a journalist to know if they’re interested or not, so don’t fret if you don’t have every last thing buttoned up just yet. You can always pin down the spokespeople, on-site contacts and more as the conversations continue. But without getting the word out first, there will be no conversations to be had.
- Capture visual assets. The reality is that not everyone who wants to cover your story will be able to dedicate resources to capture content, and for many mediums, visuals are a make-or-break for running coverage. Make a plan for who will be on-site and what you want them to capture, along with how it will quickly get distributed to media. We worked with an amazing Minnesota Department of Agriculture staffer who captured photos and videos at the cutting of the tree. He then sent us the footage so we could distribute it to media in time for their deadlines. From a shot list to consistent communication to speedy distribution, this sequence of events was a crucial part of our media relations, and submitted visuals were used in several stories.
- When opportunity knocks – answer. While it may feel chaotic at times, don’t run away from the chaos. Lean into it and make the most of each opportunity to share your unique story.
Photo Credit: Minnesota Grown