Empty News Budgets Mean Opportunities for Your Utilities
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- May 24, 2019
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At my day job at a weekly newspaper, I keep a file with story ideas for both the current and upcoming few issues.
Sad to say (for me anyway), the pickings start to get slim by mid-June. This isn’t a surprise — it happens every year and is something news outlets of all stripes deal with and prepare for in advance. Schools are out, many businesses run reduced hours, governments scale back some services and people go on vacation.
The good news for utilities (and all would-be coverage seekers) is that the bar for inclusion becomes much lower. Those pitches that were rejected in March might look pretty good in mid-July when it’s 96 degrees and nothing much is happening.
In fact, I keep a separate file full of rejected story ideas that didn’t make the cut but at least had some merit and were worth considering. By the end of the summer, many of those stories have been covered.
What this means for you is that when the news calendar gets light, it’s time for you to up your pitching efforts. It’s counterintuitive, but it can work. Because other people aren’t pitching as much, there’s extra opportunity for you.
The usual caveats apply.
Make your pitches in advance. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. Explain why your pitch is newsworthy. Don’t make a pest of yourself. Make it easy for the media to cover you bylining up sources, providing background information, suggesting good photo possibilities and anything else asked of you.
Hot weather pitches are popular, but definitely think outside the box. Summer is a good time to try to showcase interesting employees or programs your utility offers.
You might ask your media outlets to revisit pitches they rejected in the past. Make your case but try to come up with something different that may sway an editor to cover your idea.
Summer also is a prime time to offer to contribute op-eds on topics of interest to the community. There’s a good chance your local outlet of choice may be scrambling to fill its opinion pages.