How to Communicate Your Coaching Story During COVID-19
While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected different parts of the world in different ways, one thing appears to be true almost everywhere: The virus has seriously impacted newsrooms and shifted how reporters tell their stories. What has not changed is journalists’ desire to seek out human-interest narratives. This approach has been particularly powerful in showing how the coronavirus has impacted us all, and how we are responding to it.
It is logical to question whether or not it is appropriate to contact reporters with story ideas about coaching during this time. The resounding answer is yes, as long as a thoughtful and tactful approach is taken.
Here are three things to consider as you frame a power of coaching story without taking advantage of the situation.
Update Your Media List
Many journalists have shifted their areas of coverage as a result of the pandemic. Those who previously covered sports, hospitality or other adversely affected industries are most likely covering general news or other pressing aspects of the COVID-19 crisis. The result of newsroom restructuring means that you might have to connect with journalists who have limited knowledge of coaching. Alternatively, some reporters that you have previously worked with may have been furloughed or laid off.
Now is the time to review and update your curated media list, or build one for the first time. Reviewing an outlet’s coronavirus coverage can give you a sense of their focus to secondary COVID-19 angles and can help identify new reporters to connect with. Targeting the right reporter and ensuring that they cover topics relevant to coaching will increase the likelihood that your pitch will be considered.
Look Within for Relevant Story Angles
We’ve seen countless examples in the last few months of how some businesses and industries have adapted to stay afloat and survive. Distilleries and breweries are now producing hand sanitizer. Some restaurants—before phased re-openings started—began to sell eggs, bread and vegetables, essentially turning into grocery stores.
To look within for a compelling story angle, ask yourself some important questions. As a solopreneur, did you:
- Shift or pivot your coaching business to a virtual environment?
- Increase the amount of pro bono coaching to positively make an impact on individuals or organizations?
- Create new coaching packages or resources that address how leaders can adapt to a new normal?
Any of these could be unique story angles from the lens of small business owners who have and are continuing to adapt during these trying times.
Other story ideas that could be useful for business and workplace reporters—or inspiration for a byline—could revolve around:
- Having effective virtual conversations
- Using a coach approach to manage teams remotely
- How coaching competencies can help executives lead with compassion during a crisis
By nature of the profession, coaches can leverage their competencies and experience for adjusting to a long-term remote working landscape. Make sure to include testimonials and case studies that demonstrate how you have helped your clients adapt to these situations and—as time goes on—identify the appropriate way to reimagine the workplace.
The best practices for reaching out to reporters—such as contacting the right journalists with relevant content—are even more critical during this crisis. Be sensitive and empathetic in your approach and avoid coming off as opportunistic. When introducing yourself to a reporter for the first time, it can help to reference a previous story and offer a new angle should they revisit that topic in the future. Engaging journalists on social media in a tactful way can also build name familiarity before an initial e-mail or phone contact.
Being a resource is part of building and maintaining valuable media relationships. It won’t always guarantee that you will be included in every story, but offering relevant and reliable information increases the potential for future inclusion.
Your e-mail might be one of dozens or hundreds a reporter receives daily, so be sure to follow up appropriately without being a nuisance. Taking a gentle but measured approach will help ensure that you are finding the right journalists who will appreciate your compelling human-interest story as the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve.