Simple Tips for Staying on Top of Fast-changing News Cycles

20 Jul Simple Tips for Staying on Top of Fast-changing News Cycles

Every morning I wake up not to my alarm, but the barrage of news alerts populating my phone:

  • CNN: Iceberg the size of Delaware breaks off of Antarctica
  • Washington Post: Women’s March Organizers to Protest the NRA
  • Time Magazine: Most Mac and Cheese Products Contain These Chemicals (what?)

…guess I’m not having Mac and Cheese for lunch…

After I down my coffee and read through these alerts, I head to the car where I then – you guessed it – listen to the news on the radio. 8:00 AM rolls around and I find myself at my desk scrolling through a variety of different news sites; Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Wired and more.

In fact, keeping up on the news is one of the most important aspects of being a #PRPro. At SpeakerBox, our team members are constantly checking the news to stay informed and keep an eye out on how to use news cycles to better position our clients.  

If you’re a corporate PR professional, you can do the same — but how can you stay informed without wasting hours scouring the internet? I’m going to take a page from the trendy news power-house, BuzzFeed, and compile a nice list of the top ways you can efficiently keep up with rapidly changing news cycles.

  • Use your Twitter: If you don’t have already have a Twitter account, I strongly recommend you make one. Twitter allows PR professionals to stay on top of the news in real-time. Here are some tips to ensure you have a robust and informative twitter feed:
    • Follow your competitors: stay in touch with the news they are breaking.
    • Follow your competitors’ competitors: This is equally as important as following your competitors! It helps you keep an eye on the entire marketplace and can provide useful insight into messaging and campaign ideas.
    • Follow the publications that cover your industry: These could be business publications, government-focused sites, technology verticals, or some other type of outlet. Following the ones that write about your industry is key for staying up to date with the news that matters to your organization.
    • Follow the local news publications: I’m based in D.C., so you can bet that I am following the good folks at Washington Post, WTOP, Federal News Radio, Washingtonian Magazine and more! It is always important to know what is happening in your local market.
  • Sign up for News Alerts: This could not be easier! Chances are you have a phone that was made after 2014, so there is no excuse to not have as-it-happens updates sent right to your phone!
  • Sign up for daily news emails: Again- this could not be more simple. Companies like TheSkimm, which is recently celebrating its 5th birthday (Happy Birthday, TheSkimm!) and Need2Know provide you with all of the major happenings in the world, with some humor as an added bonus.
  • Have newsletters delivered to your inbox: These are generally sent a few times a week. Some good ones to look into include:
    • HARO (Help A Reporter Out): A great way to learn about media opportunities and requests for topics/stories that a reporter is writing about, especially if your  goal is to secure more thought leadership pieces!
    • PR Week Weekly Online Edition: This is essential for the PR professional looking to learn more about campaigns, techniques, analyses and other insights from veteran PR experts. It also provides opinion pieces and overviews of the week’s major news stories as an added bonus!
  • Listen to the radio!! This is old school, but you’d be surprised how much you can pick up on by just having your favorite news station playing in the background. I’m loyal to WTOP-FM (gotta have my traffic and weather together on the 8s!), but I think it’s safe to say that there is a newsradio out there for everyone!
    • Don’t drive into work? No problem. Almost every major news radio has a website with either clippings of, or a live stream of their current broadcast. iHeartMedia even has it’s own app where you can listen to entire newscasts and shows!
    • Need a little culture with your news? NPR posts the audio of all of their major shows (Morning Edition, All Things Considered etc..) online daily, so listen to them while you break for lunch or play it in the background while you work.


Lastly, the most important piece of advice I can give to someone trying to stay informed is: make it a routine! The more you implement your own “news cycle cycle” into your daily life, the easier it is. Make it second nature will help you become a better — and more informed — PR professional.

Casey Dell'Isola
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