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A Return to Normality for Your Utility’s PR Efforts – or Is It?

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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Managing Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 32 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too. The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

  • Member since 2016
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Driving into work today, I realized that things really are finally getting back to normal.

For one thing, I’ve been back in the office for six weeks. I got my second vaccine a week ago. Driving around last night, I saw some full restaurants. And I’ve noticed that traffic seems to be increasing each day, culminating in a backup this morning at a common congestion spot that I haven’t observed happening since early 2020.

So, what does this mean for your public relations efforts and your relationships with your news media? Has anything changed?

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Yes and no.

In one sense the media is still doing what it always has done – reporting on the news. That means if you start holding (or sponsoring) events, the media is ripe for pitching. The same is true for any general things you want to publicize.

The usual caveats apply. Don’t expect coverage of everything, pitch at the proper time and with the proper materials, be as helpful as possible and keep your expectations realistic.

In another sense, the pandemic has permanently changed the media. For example, when the pandemic began, I was overseeing four reporters and putting out weekly papers that typically ran 36 to 40 pages. Today, I have two reporters and our papers more commonly are 28 to 32 pages.

The pandemic has forced the closure of many outlets, and those remaining are leaner than ever.

That’s not all bad for you. While there are fewer overall places to land a story, the ones that remain are more likely to consider your contributions, especially if they are ready made.

Things like op-eds will be in demand and inexperienced (and overworked) journalists are more likely to accept your materials at face value. Not that you should ever lie (or even stretch the truth much), but your materials are more likely to be accepted at face value and less likely to be fact checked.

All in all, with the usual summer media slowdown just ahead, now’s a good time to be pitching stories, whether for evergreen ideas, topical things like the upcoming wildfire season or the end of pandemic payment deferrals, breaking news or features on interesting or unusual subjects.

Good luck in the months ahead!

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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