From the increased focus on digital communications to the demand for data-driven insights, there have been immense changes within the PR sphere during recent years. However, the potential for the amplification of your brand messaging hasn’t diminished. These were just a few of the key points raised in our recent panel event, where we focused on the essential ingredients of great PR.
This event was chaired by The Work Crowd co-founder Alice Weightman, with an expert panel including hugely experienced PR Director Gabby Jesson, Head of Brand & Corporate Communications for Subway EMEA Joan O'Connor, and Director of Coppergate Communications Zaiba Malik.
Keep on reading for all of the essential insights and takeaways.
What’s the best approach to PR?
There’s much more to great PR than the writing of press releases. It should be an ongoing activity involving the engagement of your business audience across a range of platforms. It is essential to maintain the balance between proactive PR (sharing good news stories) and reactive PR (responding appropriately to negative attention).
“The first kind of element is genuinely proactive positive PR. It's really where a company, client, [or] organization has complete control over what it does and why it's doing it. There's also another element of PR, which is really kind of reactive PR. it's dealing with something that you have to get out and talk about when you've faced a more negative issue.” Zaiba
How should you tell your story?
There are various means of communicating and sharing your brand story. Traditional media, social media and other direct channels may all be used for audience engagement. And there’s no denying the importance of storytelling when it comes to generating a buzz. The chances of publication will be greatest when stories are woven that connect with the right people.
Joan made these storytelling recommendations:
How do you engage a diverse audience?
Given that there are such a broad spectrum of media channels, you might well be wondering which are best suited to the connection and engagement of your audience. You have to find ways of delivering messaging that consistently resonates with a diversity of people.
“The story has to be bedded in honesty, and authenticity. I think the key question to ask before you start to nuance the messaging for your different identified audiences, is, what does this mean? What kind of impact is this story having on our customers?. That is a really useful way of [ensuring] that your story is strong enough to take out to whoever those influencers or platforms or journalists might be. There are all kinds of ways of collaborating with important influences and media too.” Gaby
What should be avoided?
It’s arguably just as important to consider what should be avoided as what should be included, given the potentially damaging effects of negative media attention. This applies in particular to the choice and use of influencers. You should consider the profiles of such influencers and how they are likely to be received by your target audience. It’s important that you account for the guidelines and protocols so that you don’t end up ruining what would otherwise be a well-crafted campaign.
“I think Integrity is really, really, really key. This applies for all types of organizations, whether they're charities or ftse 100. I think you're going to get caught out if you don't have integrity in your strategy. If you have a strategy or a campaign that is completely at odds with what you're doing internally [then] that's not going to work. I think if you try and preach something that you don't practice [then] you will be found out, whether it's through employees blowing the whistle, through your consumers, [or] even through politicians. Just be careful of the tone that you use, and really where you focus your strategy as well.” Zaiba
The panel gave the following examples of personalities and brands who are getting PR right:
And these recommendations were made for the creation of stand-out PR:
What are the biggest PR challenges?
Alice finished up the webinar by asking the panel about the biggest PR challenges that they’d faced and how these challenges had been overcome.
Zaiba highlighted the importance of drawing on an external perspective, asking colleagues and other contacts for their honest opinions before implementing a PR strategy. She said that it’s essential for the PR team to come together and agree on a primary objective, embracing a shared culture and vision.
Gaby focused on one of the regularly encountered micro-challenges of having a poorly written brief, or not having a brief at all. This issue may be apparent when a senior staff member demands great coverage without the initial creation of a meaningful strategy. Gaby emphasised the importance of ensuring that those involved in the PR campaign have some understanding of how it will work.
Finally, Joan reflected on the almost humorous challenge of being told by the Ad agency that she could PR an un-newsworthy story. She gave the example of a creative strapline assumed to have a great backstory, but actually lacking in any real substance.
Keen to watch this webinar back? Click here for all of the essential insights and takeaways.
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