Tactful Pitching: The Ukraine Crisis and What PR Pros Should Know

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We are living in a time of escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.  As PR professionals focused on tech clients, we at Bospar know how important it is to be mindful of what the media is interested in, as well as what they absolutely don’t have time for. While major media are covering critical aspects of this situation, the tragedies, and the plight of the Ukranian people, there are tech reporters determining what this event means for areas like cybersecurity.

Bospar is focused on the best approach to pitching tech stories during this sensitive period and ensuring that the reporters who PR professionals are contacting are in fact correct sources for relevant story ideas. It is a major faux pas and a relationship-breaker to be tone-deaf and pitch a journalist who is solely focused on this crisis.

Verify…and Read, Read, Read!

It is important to check the type of coverage coming from tech media during this time. Cyber-attacks have been carried out, and more are expected due to the Russia-Ukraine situation, but that doesn’t mean a national reporter assigned to the conflict would focus on this issue. Therefore, it is imperative to identify who the beat reporter is that is assigned to this type of story. The only way to do so is by reading.

In addition, tech-focused publications (such as VentureBeat, Tech Crunch and ZD Net) are covering what the crisis means to the tech world, so one should assess who the appropriate contact is for the relevant publication. Check out what has already been written so as not to inundate a journalist at a time when they are overloaded with pitches. It is ideal to offer something that no one else has already brought forth. If you represent a company that has a new service or product that in no way ties into this timely news subject and this is what the publication is now solely focused on, now is the time to wait. At the same time, one should keep in mind that beat reporters stick to their assigned beats, and trade publications have their specialty. 

Your Subject Line Is Key

Personalizing emails and making it clear you’re writing directly to a single person (rather than blasting out a press release to many individuals simultaneously) are especially important during this time. Your subject line is key to summing up what your pitch is about. In the body of your email, be succinct and get straight to the point.

A Time to Give

This is a time to give and to be clear that you are not asking a reporter for something or to do a job for you. Provide them with a quote that might be useful to them, as well as the context. Respect that the reporter might have a very different assignment today than they had previously.  

Be Aware of Changing Environments

Dip your toes in the water to get a sense of the temperature before you dive in.  If things have changed internally at a publication due to the current situation, see where you can be of help to the reporter in order to make their job easier. Also, make sure to look at their recent tweets, articles and other postings to get a sense of their wellbeing, priorities and focus right now. Use that context to better connect with them.

It is also a good idea to review the main pages of different media outlets to determine the priorities right now for those newsrooms. 

If in Doubt, Don’t!

Sometimes it is far better to do nothing and say nothing at all than say the wrong thing. If you are unsure that your client’s news and a certain pitch are appropriate for now, it is best to refrain from pitching at all. It is crucial to be certain of your public relations strategies in uncertain times. If you don’t proceed with care, you risk jeopardizing your name as well as the name of your client.

It is a time for compassion, tact and empathy.

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About the author

Shira Weiss is a Director of Content at Bospar Public Relations. Shira has promoted a variety of organizations in B2B and consumer technology. She has worked both in-house and in technology-focused PR agencies, specializing in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and HR and financial/banking technologies. Her work has consisted of PR and marketing content production, crafting bylined articles, pitches, press kit materials and website and social copy. Weiss also worked as a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and as a freelance writer for multiple newspapers and news websites.

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