When it comes to Media Relations strategy the current climate means you need to talk to clients about building a plan with serious ‘flex’.
By Niki Wheeler, Director, Launch
It takes agility to navigate a news agenda which must withstand a Presidential Twitter outburst, Brexit jostling, celebrity scandal or hard breaking news – and often all four.
As the poor Reverend Richard Coles has shown on Strictly, good choreography and a few laughs get you so far – but substance, accuracy and seriously deft footwork are required if the brands you represent are to stay in front of the great British public.
We need to listen to the rhythm of the news agenda and be prepared to stop or dance to a completely new tune at a moment’s notice – with the same sparkling set of results delivered. This might look easy, but it takes considerable expectation management and pre-planning.
Is an announcement or piece of research strong enough for news or will a well-placed exclusive see everyone else jostle for a piece of the action? Can a celeb association or peg be sweated for consumer onlines and are those stats credible? Will experts cut it in the broadsheets and have specialists, feature, picture and telegenic angles been explored? Client expectations need to be managed even when a ‘target media list’ is submitted.
It is also our job to make sure we are clear with clients about media timelines when it comes to asking for copy to be approved (never after conference / on a press day) – particularly if compliance or legal are involved in sign off.
We often see media and influencers as our second set of clients so whether it is through 1-1s, breakfast or lunchtime briefings (thanks to the CIPR for these), desk drops, cuttings, paper reviews or Gorkana – relationship building and intelligence gathering is still part of agency life from Assistant to CEO.
This doesn’t mean unwelcome ‘what are you working on at the moment?’ or ‘did you get my press release?’ follow up, but it does means we provide realistic (real-time) updates to clients. If it isn’t 90% don’t call it a ‘hot lead’. And if something isn’t working, explain well informed changes in direction or the additional ingredients you need as they happen – never over promising, but delivering ambitious but glittering results and resourceful solutions instead.