Closely monitoring breaking news on a regular basis is an important way to find opportunities for you or your clients to serve as an expert for the media during timely events. But days of breaking news might also be times to delay your pitches.
For example, we are not pitching stories to the mainstream media while outlets cover the events in Oklahoma. From an emotional perspective, we personally feel uncomfortable trying to sell the virtues of our story ideas at a time when the events of much higher importance are occurring in our country. From a practical perspective, we understand the media are focusing much of their attention on Oklahoma and slots for evergreen stories that could air at later dates are few and far between. Many of the journalists I worked with were not particularly excellent during days of breaking news of filing away unrelated stories for another day.
These scenarios are not typically black-and-white. Other media including those online with a specific focus likely welcome new ideas at any time. If your story idea is tied to a scheduled event you cannot postpone, you may have no choice but to pitch the story now despite the less than ideal circumstances. And some in the media may point out that even during big days of breaking news, they seek some unrelated ideas to ensure their coverage isn’t solely focused on one topic. But in reality, my experience indicates the spots and time slots you’re fighting for are reduced dramatically. And the space and airtime your idea receives may be reduced substantially.
The bottom line is breaking news is both a barometer for when to pitch ideas and when to wait for a better day.