You hear it all the time, see it in job descriptions and read about it in books – spotting and capitalizing on trends. I even tell my students that to be successful in media relations they must have the ability to spot a trend and jump on it.
One of the keys to implementing a successful media relations plan is to anticipate what journalists want to cover or need to cover before they’re aware of it themselves. Since most of us can’t see into the future or have a crystal ball to help us, the best way to do this is to become a trend-spotter.
But how exactly does anyone do that?
Read: Well, the first thing is you need to be well read. Devour news. Read it, watch it, and listen to it. Knowing what’s going on around you and around the world will help you understand what the news media are reporting on. Let’s not forget about professional trade publications either. Scan various information from a variety of sources to see what’s going on. Use tools like RSS feeds, newsletters, Twitter feeds, blogs and electronic publications to keep on top of what’s happening. Doing this on a regular basis will teach you which sources are valuable.
Google Trends is an excellent tool to use as a way to follow trends in real-time on the Internet as they unfold. Like so many Google tools, it’s a powerful and underutilized tool. As a PR practitioner use it to follow what’s hot. If your industry falls into one of the trends then capitalize on it, find an interesting story and pitch a journalist.
Talk: Talking to others is another excellent trend-spotting tactic. Get out there and get involved. Join networking associations, industry organizations, and attending events virtually and in person. The Social Media Association of Southeast Michigan and the Detroit Chapter of PRSA are a couple of excellent local associations to join.
Watch: Remember that research class you took in college? You know the one…your professor made you watch people… well put it to work. Open your eyes and see what’s happening around you.
Think: The more you read, talk and watch you will being to see the possibility of trending stories before you eyes. Making connections between what you are reading, who you are talking to and what you are watching could result in some amazing pitches to journalists.
Your next pitch could land you or your client on the CBS Evening News.