• Elysia Rodriguez

2021 Media Strategy Outlook: Defining your Message, Making an Impact & Achieving Results

If 2020 taught us anything, it is to be prepared for anything. Whether your business flourished this year or you are barely hanging on - the new year is an opportunity for a fresh start.

Looking ahead to 2021, many media coverage trends will remain the same. COVID-19 stories will continue to be top priority, but how they are framed will evolve. The topics of the vaccine, a potential new strain of COVID, aid for businesses, stimulus money and changing restrictions will dominate media coverage in the first couple months of the year.

In addition to the COVID-19 reports, expect the transition of power between President Donald Trump and President-Elect Joe Biden to remain front and center. There are many other stories, and given how unpredictable last year was, it is anyone’s guess what else may occur. Be prepared.

I was in the TV news business for more than 15 years as a reporter, anchor, producer, assignment editor, photographer and even editor. Most of my career in journalism was in New England. I’ve seen a lot, covered a lot and also tossed aside or deleted hundreds of thousands of press releases in those years. There’s a better way.

Your company or organization should already have some plan for their media strategy in 2021, but here are some additional thoughts on how to best succeed in the changing business and media environment.

1. Include Video Whenever Possible: Video is powerful in storytelling, and can be the factor that transforms your marketing message or press release from information into a call to action. Consider investing in your own equipment or hiring a firm or freelancer that can help you add video to your media strategy.

2. Determine What Makes You an Expert: Experts are crucial to many news pieces, articles, etc. Take the time to identify your areas of expertise and make sure the news agencies and media in your area know who you are. This small effort will save you time. If you can establish yourself as an expert and foster relationships in your region, eventually people will reach out to you and you will no longer have to constantly pitch yourself.

3. Prepare to Stay Put While Expanding your Reach: In 2020, journalists relied on Zoom, FaceTime and other video conferencing tools to conduct interviews safely. Although some have resumed in-person interviews with social distancing, the trend of virtual video interviews will continue. It is important to take advantage of this. You can now reach out to journalists and writers who previously were too far away to travel to for in-person interviews.

4. Look Good Virtually: Making connections is great, keeping connections is even better. If you get one interview with a reporter or writer and you do well, it is likely they will reach out to you again. Providing a good quality video interview will help to succeed in these virtual interviews. To do this properly, make sure you have a solid internet connection and a well-lit, professional space. Simple tools like a ring light, a small LED light, or an external webcam rather than your standard internal laptop/desktop camera can ensure you look your best.

5. Always Be Prepared: If you have reached out to reporters or writers, they may return your call at any time. If you want the coverage, especially when virtual interviews are possible, that might mean being able to do an interview with very short notice. Return calls promptly and have your set-up ready to do interviews within an hour or two of the call. If you can’t do the interview quickly, they may move on to someone else.

6. Remember Representation: Last summer, many businesses and organizations made commitments to listen and reflect as part of a greater push toward racial equality. That will not be forgotten in 2021. Some news organizations have also made the commitment to ensure that interviews, guests, panel participants, and experts are representative of the audiences they serve. This year, take a closer look and make sure your business or organization is a reflection of your customers and your community. Make sure that those who represent your business in the media represent diversity as well.

Let’s continue the conversation! Each week in January Benchmark Strategies will be highlighting some of these 2021 best practices in collaboration with our client partners. Follow us for more and connect with us to start a conversation about the benefits of having Benchmark working with you to make a positive impact in 2021.

Contact: Elysia Rodriguez - erodriguez@benchmark-strategies.com

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