As a rule I am an advocate of the careful and considered approach when it comes to using media relations to amplify your brand or respond to issues.
However, there are times when you have to be ready to respond quickly and it points to the value of two critical requirements for PR and communications practitioners.
The first is to be constantly scanning your business and industry environment for trends and opportunities to position your company as an expert or a source of knowledge. This is why the first requirement of any great PR person is to immerse themselves in the business of their enterprise. Too many PR people sit on the periphery of their companies. You don’t find potential news content sitting in your office – you find it getting out into the murky depths of your business or industry and absorbing information and data.
The second is to be a “news nerd” and know what is topical by reading, watching and listening to what is being covered in the news media. Most companies and organisations have a wellspring of information and data just waiting to be tapped into for potential news content that has the potential to amplify the presence of their brand and improve their reputation.
There is perhaps a third requirement, which can help. Where you can, and this will depend on the culture of your company: Document your approach on major public policy issues relevant to your industry and get agreement up front so that if an issue breaks, you are confident you can speak on the company’s behalf without having to go through an elongated sign-off process.
I was chatting to a senior journalist recently and he commented on the reality that many stories offered by PR folk fail to get a run simply because they are not quick enough to keep up with the news cycle.
Issues break fast in today’s media landscape and journalists and audiences get bored quickly. Proactive media relations can be a powerful weapon in your armoury, but you’ve got to be ever vigilant and prepared to act quickly. Don’t wait for the news to come to you – get ready – the opportunity of a lifetime might be just around the corner.