Friday, April 12, 2013

Scope media coverage before sending your news release

Yesterday, a horrible bus accident occurred in Irving, TX on a major highway. A private charter bus carrying seniors to an Oklahoma casino veered across a busy DFW freeway and crashed. First responders, onlookers, and local media outlets quickly portrayed a chaotic scene for rescue of dozens injured or trapped inside and unfortunately, recovery of two people who lost their lives.

As the story developed, national news coverage broke with local affiliate footage from the scene as well as area hospitals where trauma teams awaited the arriving ambulances. The media echoed the calls from first responders to alert area motorists to avoid that and nearby roads. Additionally, reports came in citing the clean record of the bus company. The investigation will continue, but for the most part, I think it was a solid example of textbook media coverage for area outlets. As residents in DFW, our hearts go out to the victims and their loved ones affected by the accident.

So what does this tragic accident have to do with public relations? Yesterday was not the day to send irrelevant news releases to local media. I was reminded of this as we had some district information to share in partnership with a local hospital on something pretty fun for elementary students. But...yesterday was not the day to send out our news release. It was not the time to bother with something lighthearted in comparison to the day's events on the roadway.

The lesson: PR pros must pay attention to what's happening in local media coverage before pushing send on news that will fall on deaf ears because of something much more important. Situational awareness is a valuable asset.