When News Breaks, Be Ready to Rock ‘n Roll

When News Breaks, Be Ready to Rock ‘n Roll

Article at a glance:

    • For free media exposure, plug into the news.
    • Everyone has expertise to contribute. What’s yours?
    • Don’t wait to jump on breaking events.

I heard the news at 5:30 Wednesday afternoon: Dick Clark was dead.

I was stunned; I really didn’t believe it. My Dick Clark?

We went way back, he and I. Growing up in New York, I tuned into “American Bandstand” every day after school. When you’re 12 or 13, it’s not always easy to find a place where you fit in and the resident grown-up takes teenagers seriously. The “Bandstand” studio full of regular kids dancing away to cool new artists was friendly, fun and completely enjoyable. It was the perfect place to escape from worries about tests, boys, and who you’d sit with in the lunchroom the next day.

Which was why, when I heard the news on Wednesday, I was shocked – and saddened.

I had about 5 minutes to indulge those feelings because our office started jumping immediately.

At EMSI, we’re as much a newsroom as we are a public relations firm. To get the best media placements, we closely follow breaking news and trends. We’re constantly looking for issues to which our clients can add context, depth or opinion for journalists. It’s what I always preach to people looking for publicity: Follow the news and plug into it when it relates to your message (more on that in just a bit).

One of our longtime clients, executive producer Michael Uslan – best known for the “Batman” box-office hits – is also a prolific author. In 1981, he co-wrote with Clark “Dick Clark’s The First 25 Years of Rock & Roll.” I may have grown up watching “the world’s oldest teenager,” but Uslan actually knew him.

By the time I’d acknowledged that the horrible news about Clark’s passing was true, our Radio Campaign Manager, Rich Ghazarian, was already on the phone with KNX in Los Angeles getting Uslan scheduled for that very evening.

Ginny Grimsley, our Print Campaign Manager, was putting a fresh spin on his bio to package with a quote from him for distribution to some of her entertainment contacts. The rest of our creative team and I were exploring other media possibilities.

By Friday, Uslan had been interviewed by a few major market stations. Ginny had fielded inquiries from a host of publications, including People magazine, Newsday, Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood.com and Radar Online and had already set up interviews. Unfortunately, Uslan was at a film festival in Nashville and unavailable for live national TV.

It was an exciting few days. Not only were we securing great placements for our client and great content for our media contacts, we were doing it by thinking fast and acting fast.
And yes, you should be doing the same thing. Whether you’ve written a novel or a guide to financial independence, whether you’ve developed a health food supplement or an interactive website, there is always a way to plug into the news. Think about your themes and your message – go beyond the nuts and bolts of your book or product and identify the bigger picture. Stay on top of the news and use your imagination! What can you offer print, radio or TV? How can you comment on your social networking sites?

Three quick tips for plugging in:

        • Be ready to pounce NOW. The news is often fleeting, and even when it sticks around awhile, it gets stale pretty fast. The time to offer yourself up is when it happens – not a few days later or next month.
        • Round up email addresses in advance. Research various media outlets, TV and radio shows, and journalists who might have a beat relevant to your message. Have their email addresses at the ready so you don’t waste time tracking them down when you need them.
        • Be available! Be ready to change your schedule, if necessary, to accommodate interviews. There’s nothing more frustrating to a journalist than being unable to reach you – especially if you’re the one who reached out to them.

Dick Clark’s passing marks the end of an era and the loss of a wonderful American icon. While that saddens me, I’m glad we at EMSI could help contribute to the nation’s understanding of the man and his contributions, thanks to Michael Uslan’s insights.

Rock on,

1 Comment

  1. I was also a kid that rushed to catch Bandstand everyday after school. Jump ahead to 2003 & I was lucky enough to serve a Radio intership with Jack Miller & Carrie Kirkland @ Oldies 104.7 in the Tampa/St. Market in FL. After that I worked for a while @ Metro Networks in Tampa. I loved this gig as I had the chance to do cam opps in the Metro Helo each morning after that would go the the Metro Studios and drop news and traffic reports for the market. One station I worked for was in the Orlando market. One day I happened to be in that area & tuned in the station. It gave me a sence of pride an urgency to “get it right” when I found out my news drops were during the Rush Limbaugh show in that market. I knew with that placement that folks were actually paying attention. Since then my wife and I did the right thing and moved back to Indiana to take care of her father who has since passsed away. I regret that I have lost most of my aircheck from then an have let my network in radio fall apart. I would so love to get back to that very same Tampa/St. Pete market and work any radio format except for urban. Radio is my passion, actually doing GOOD radio is my desire. “Getting it right” is my slogan for any career I may work at. Thank you for the great lessons contained in this artical. Thanks to my one time boss/friend from Metro, Russ for passing this along.


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