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Why Didn’t Your Utility Get Coverage After it Appeared it Would?

Here’s a common scenario: Your utility has an event planned that seems newsworthy. You’ve gotten in touch with numerous media outlets in advance, and several seem interested in covering it; a few even say they’re likely to be there.

The event takes place and goes off without a hitch – except most (or all) of those media outlets are no shows.

What happened?

As disappointing as that is, remember that it likely isn’t your fault (although try telling that to unhappy corporate executives).

There are a lot of reasons why expected coverage evaporates.

The most common reason is that something more important – true breaking news – happened.  It could be something tragic, such as a mass shooting, or something of huge local importance (your team’s longtime quarterback being traded) or a million other things. By its nature, news is fluid and breaking news is always going to take priority over a canned event.

Another reason revolves around staffing. There are far fewer news crews and camera teams to go around these days, so assigning editors are judicious with their deployment.

Sometimes, it’s something out of the news crew’s control. Cars break down or get stuck in traffic jams. Perhaps the mayor’s press conference is delayed and the crew can’t make it to both events, as originally planned.

And then there are changed circumstances.

If you contact a journalist/assignment editor/other decision maker say a week before an event, they might be optimistic they’ll be able to cover it. At that point, their calendar may be relatively clear. Of course, other people/organizations seeking coverage will be contacting them between then and when your event happens – and their events may be deemed more interesting, pushing you down the priority list.

There’s also a chance they were just being nice to you and had no real intention of covering the event. Instead of giving you a firm “no” they said it might be a possibility. Some things get cancelled and stories being pursued fall through, so assigning editors and reporters like to have backup ideas. You may have been a backup.

So, what can you do?

Unfortunately, not much, especially if you realistically had expectations of coverage. You might contact the news organizations that spurned you a day or so later and ask what happened, although you should never complain or be accusatory. Perhaps you’ll get some good advice you can use in the future.

In any case, utility PR teams need to have thick skins, so shake it off and begin working to make your next event something the media can’t afford to miss.

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