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News Consumption: The PR Professional’s Daily Meal

By Abena Koomson on June 10, 2024

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A black and white photograph of coffee and newspapers on a table.

Where do you get your news? What news sources are you reading? What current news story are you following? How invested are you in daily happenings? Do you expose yourself to news stories beyond your immediate surroundings?

As basic as these questions may sound, they are extremely relevant. News coverage is just one facet of public relations; nonetheless, it still plays a significant role in the field. Numerous PR approaches and initiatives revolve around:

  • How do we get people to know about us and what we are doing?
  • How do we get people to be involved in what we have set out to do?

News coverage often makes these possible and brings them to life. When you work in PR, trust me, it’s in your best interest to consume as much news as possible, as it makes your work easier. 

People tend to really take seriously the accounts of those perceived as having influence — These influences are journalists and media reporters. Public relations initiatives encompass more than just the message itself. Determining the most effective way to spread that message is similarly highly valued. Due to technological advancements, there are so many channels to utilize. Still, the conventional approach of putting to good use journalists or media reporters as a channel to get your message out will always hold its top spot. We as individuals are almost ten times more inclined to listen to, patronize, or at the very least visit a company’s website to learn more when they are mentioned by someone with the perceived trust of the public.

More importantly, the perception that your business has been in the news, makes customers feel and perceive it as genuine, compelling them to take your call to action. A compelling story or narrative that addresses the problems of your customers and presents your company as the solution can create an emotional need for what you are selling or promoting. That emotional need opens the door to the opportunity to meet your organizational goals.

All this is only made possible when you get your message on the right table. How, then, do you gain the attention of the media? To generate media interest in your story, you must think like a journalist and create a newsworthy story which you can then “sell” to them. But how can you possibly know what journalists are thinking? This is not entirely impossible, and the most straightforward response is news consumption. The more news you consume, the more aware you are of what journalists or media persons are writing and talking about.

It’s also no secret that working in PR means having to know a little bit about everything. That’s not to say we are required to know everything, that’s humanly impossible. There is no need to overload our brains with everything happening around us. It’s an extremely daunting task. The smart way to remain knowledgeable is to sift through and focus on the highlights. Highlights may come in the form of happenings in your industry, industries you represent (tech, beauty and lifestyle, automobile, real estate), and related issues that affect your business (government policies, legal issues, financial services). By doing this, you are soaking in the right amount of news that is pertinent to you, your work and things that affect your work.

You can accomplish this in a simple and practical way by signing up for the morning or late afternoon email news briefings. Before you can drink your first cup of coffee or wrap up a workday, you receive emails like these updating you on what’s happening. As an added piece of advice, you could also decide to subscribe to general news digest as well as industry or topic-specific rundowns. This is a great way to stay up to date on current events and trends in sectors that affect you and your clients.

Using audio and video news sources is another excellent method to keep informed. The best places to start are FM radio and TV news networks. You can listen to the most recent events around you by turning on your radio in the morning while commuting to work. Alternatively, you can have the nearest TV screen at work playing any news channel in the rear. In the case of working from home you can have your home TV turned on and do not particularly have to focus all your attention on what a newscaster may be presenting on. Luckily for us, these channels have changed headlines. Sometimes, a six-word headline suffices, and you can choose to continue reading whatever piques your interest at a later time.

A big part of the PR professional’s work is writing. From press releases to media pitches and proposals— you cannot do away with it. Here’s an interesting fact: reading, listening or watching the news also improves your writing abilities. By reading articles written by professional journalists, you pick their style and learn to write clear, concise, and well-organized essays. This gives PR professionals the upper hand when developing media plans for their clients and pitching journalists.

Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of current affairs is essential to setting oneself out from the rest of the group as someone who can educate others and provide instances from the real world. News consumption is also beneficial for:

  • Tracking competitors
  • Identifying relevant opportunities
  • Sporting emerging trends that you can create relevant pitches around
  • Being up to date on issues affecting the lives of your clients and their purchasing patterns
  • Staying aware of sensitive news cycles
  • Being attuned to looming threats to your company or industry and catching news that you need to react to internally or externally but as immediately as possible.

If you are not genuinely interested in the news, the public relations profession is not for you.

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