Through years of working in public relations, we have found that sticking to a communications plan based on the overall goals and strategy of the client is not enough. Promoting seasonal content or launching a PR blitz around a major announcement are examples of planned engagement, which is generally key to the success of a brand.
But with the help of your PR or communications team, things that happen unexpectedly can also become great publicity opportunities. Regular brainstorming sessions are a fantastic way to keep up with a client, but so is the following checklist, based on traditional PR principles. For us, training our clients on these strategies has proven to be extremely valuable.
The first step in learning how to spot potential opportunities is understanding the news cycle and what the media covers. It is important to examine how your brand aligns with a current news topic, and if and how what you offer could be beneficial. Then, explore what aspects would the most attractive to the news media and the target audience. Generally speaking, the media covers the latest, the unique, trends, stories with a heart, news you can use, and entertainment.
And the same can be true for social media content. A great recent example is a restaurant donating meals to doctors and nurses treating COVID-19 patients. It is a timely feel-good story with great visuals that work for both traditional news and social media. The key is making sure the client and other key stakeholders understand that, in addition to helping the community, this would serve as good publicity. Then, reach out to your communications team – hopefully with ample time to make a plan!
Continuing with our example, once you identify the opportunity, be sure to set goals, identify the target, and develop a message. Let’s say you decide to do a social campaign with great feedback from the community, and you get a call from a local news reporter looking to do a story. Knowing how to handle the request is as important as getting their attention in the first place. As a rule of thumb, be friendly, accessible, and timely on your response. If the request includes an interview, make sure whoever represents your business is prepared and articulate.
Finally, make sure to ask when the story will be published or broadcast, and get his or her contact information. And don’t forget to send a thank-you note or email; manners go a long way.