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7 things PR pros can expect following bin Laden’s death

My son Danny at Ground Zero, 2008

Newsflash: Want to steer clear of looking like a complete ass in front of reporters and bloggers this week?

With news from President Obama Sunday night that Osama bin Laden was killed, the news cycle for the foreseeable future is unpredictable at best. How will politicians, the media, Americans, and the world digest and spin this story? 

Here are 7 things PR pros can expect in the coming days: 

1. Brace yourself before you patiently explain to your client or boss that the pitch or event you had planned ain’t happening. That is unless it can be directly connected to terrorism, patriotism, 9/11, or anything remotely tied to these themes.

2. Obey the news cycle. News is fluid and always changing. This historic event has to play out in the media all around the world.  We may not like the duration or the path it takes, but we have to watch it unfold.

3. Get the hell out of the way. That is unless you can really help. Reporters, producers, assignment desk editors, and anyone working in a newsroom will be crankier than usual. They’ll be flooded with breaking news, live feeds, up-to-the minute changes before deadlines, and idiotic phone calls and online messages from novices and the public. 

 4.  Expect schedule changes for public affairs shows. Anyone or anything to do with the death of bin Laden gets first preference, as long as you can connect it to the audience. Don’t be surprised if the segment your client had planned to record since February gets bumped. Again. 

5. Travel with technology. That means your flip cam or cell phone should be with you at all times. (Hint: You must be able to use your electronics; not just carry them around.  Sure you can take a picture but do you know how to tweet it or upload a video from the road?) Keep your eyes and ears open for impromptu gatherings, patriotic moments, and protests. Who knows? Be prepared to tweet video, pictures, and sound bites to CNN iReport. We live in a real time world. Every single one of us is now the media. But you’re in PR. You know that.

6. Use a personalized video pitch to reporters so they can quickly and easily see the relevance of your story. And your professionalism. Be sure your online newsroom is absolutely current.  

7. Think about everything this story touches on. You have to have some connection to it: airline travel, overseas business travelers and safety, schoolchildren and the historic news, social media and tech breaks the story, politics, 9/11 survivors, flag manufacturers, wounded vets, patriotic clothing, the new generation living with terrorism, travel cancellations, economic impact, leadership and power, students overseas, Obama’s speech, and more. Remember: Memorial Day and Flag Day are just around the corner.

We used to say in the newsroom that Monday was a slow news day. Not this time.

G-d Bless America.

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  1. James Knauff says:

    Excellent Sue. Thank you for delivering with your usual keen insight and relevance.

  2. I agree with most of the tips but I don’t think all companies should halt their news cycle if it isn’t relevant to Osama’s death. We should take note and try to work around or with the news best way possible.

    • Hi Desiree,

      Thanks for your comment. I guess you made my point when you wrote “work around the news the best way possible…” When it’s changing with breaking news at any moment, that’s a tough thing to do. Wish we had a crystal ball this week.


  3. kristen b says:

    How disrespectful of you to bleep out GOD’s name! Believe what you want but if you need to block it, don’t even put it. And, to think you’re trying to be patriotic in this morning. How about this: GOD BLESS AMERICA!


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