Good News for Bad Times

By Tessa Curtis, principal, Tessa Curtis Associates,

How many times over my years in PR have clients bemoaned that journalists ‘are only interested in bad news’? In buoyant times, it’s easy to see why they might think that.

But we are now in very brutal times. There is a daily diet of near-constant grim news. Stories of death, disease and economic ruin – at personal, national, and global levels – dominate the news agenda and, quite frankly, for many of us it’s all too much.

Journalists understand this. Indeed, it’s a bit much for many of them too – hence the ‘arts slot’ that’s recently come in to close the BBC Today Programme, and stirring stories like that of 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore, walking his garden while raising millions for the NHS. Or the young woman near death, saved after her loving husband turned her onto her side.

“For Christ’s sake bring me something to cheer them up!” you can almost hear news editors up and down the land cry, albeit from their living rooms – since we’re all in lockdown.

So here’s some good news for anyone still working in PR and media relations right now. News desks have discovered an unprecedented appetite for anything positive. Journalists love the counter-intuitive – which is normally the grim stuff. Right now, it’s anything but.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been putting this to the test and can happily report there has never been a better time to sell good news business stories, even relatively thin ones.

Take new hires. In more normal times, a company might need to invest millions or perhaps break into a new market to get such a story beyond their immediate trade titles. When I was a business correspondent myself the bar was certainly set pretty high. “What else?” we’d say.

Last week, however, I had a story based around just TWO new hires picked up in both national and specialist press. Similarly, a study I launched several weeks ago, which in normal times might now be dead, is still gaining extraordinary follow on interest, and not just in the UK. Several weeks after its launch I’ve had pick up from India to Singapore – and back again.

What this means is that instead of laying off and cutting back on PR – as many are inclined to do – companies should instead be ramping it up. With more appetite and less competition for positive news than at any time I can remember, this is the time to get out there.

Anyway, if it works for me and my clients, I thought you might like to try it on yours….

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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