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The news agenda is an extremely crowded place and being the business to cut through the noise can feel like an impossible feat.
However, there are a few tips and tricks that, as a PR agency, we can help our clients employ to give them a better chance at being listened to by a journalist and chosen as a commentator of choice on relevant and timely issues.
1. Consider your timing
Proactive PR usually relates to events that we know are coming up. This could be awareness days, ONS releases, government announcements or dates in the calendar that happen annually, like school exams.
If you’re looking to comment on upcoming news items, make sure you’re contacting a journalist with plenty of time to spare. Some events will be on their radar a week or so before the big day and, in some cases, months before. They don’t call it Christmas in July for nothing – journalists are usually collating their gift lists in the height of summer!
Work with your PR team to create an annual event calendar so no pertinent dates go amiss.
2. Say something different
You most certainly won’t be the only person contacting the media if there’s a notable event coming up, so it’ll be important that what you say stands out from the crowd.
While we wouldn’t advocate saying anything inflammatory, saying something colourful with a strong opinion (that can be backed up) will stand you in great stead. Journalists will become bored at hearing the same grey, corporate speak year on year and will be looking for something to add a bit of flavour to their story.
3. Use research
Hard data is a journalist’s best friend; it adds gravitas to a story, relays news in a digestible way to the audience and enables them to report factually rather simply relying on the opinion of sources. If you know that an event is coming up that your business has a lot to say about, then this is the perfect time to employ a research company.
For example, perhaps you’re an Accountancy firm preparing to talk about the upcoming Autumn budget in October of this year. In September, undertaking a research project to collate statistics on what changes the public would like to see the government implement in the budget would act as excellent insight to share with a journalist ahead of the event.
4. Offer an exclusive
It’s likely that most news outlets will be covering the event in question that you’re thinking about proactively commenting on, and they’re all going to want to be getting the biggest scoop.
In the event where you can offer unique research or hold an exceptional news story, then now is the time to target your gold-tier publication target with an exclusive. While you won’t receive a breadth of coverage, you’re far more likely to garner very high-quality coverage.
5. Don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t work out
Media relations is quite literally what it says on the tin; the predominant asset you can hold when working with news outlets is the relationships you build and retain with journalists.
You may find that the first few times that you approach a journalist with commentary for a proactive story, you aren’t chosen as a first-choice speaker. However, as your relationship with them builds and as your credentials become stronger and more recognised, this is when you’ll see a greater uptake of inclusion.
Proactive PR is certainly a much slower burner than reactive PR, but it’ll be worth the wait!