PR has changed over the years – nowadays, the strongest and most proactive PR sets the news agenda, rather than merely responding to it. Long gone are the Ivy Lee days when sending a press release would suffice to spread an organisation’s message.
Although the press release remains a useful asset for getting the story straight and briefing media and stakeholders, today’s fierce competition for news coverage requires PR professionals to have many more tricks up their sleeves. For greater impact, it is essential that press releases are accompanied by active pitches to journalists exclusive interview offers, strong images (photo/infographic/illustration), videos or other pieces of engaging content that can make stories more attractive and relevant to editors. Interviews, thought leadership, opinion and features can also be successful.
Offering interviews to journalists is the way to provide questions to the answers organisations are eager to communicate to the public. They can serve multiple purposes and be delivered in different formats. First, they can be used to brief an identified journalist on an organisation’s context, its issues and upcoming projects (especially when that journalist has written about issues that of similar concern or relevance to the organisation in question). They can also lead to coverage of an organisation or individual’s expert commentary on external matters. In some cases, journalists will approach PR teams to have an interview with one of the organisation’s spokespeople as part of a larger story that would not necessarily be focused on the organisation but still help to spread their views to a wide audience. As with features, they work best in conjunction with new research/insight or a very strong point of view.
Features give organisations the opportunity to contribute to the discussion of a key industry issue or trend, usually decided by the journalist commissioned to write it. Inclusion is often alongside other complementary or polarised points of view, to articulate and explore different sides of an argument or issue. Features can be suggested to journalists if it’s to explore a new piece of research in more depth than a news article. Likewise, thought leadership can also be offered to journalists looking for an expert to weigh in on an important industry issue.
Opinion sits on the fence of Proactive and Reactive PR, as it can combine recent events in the news agenda, or PR professionals’ own news outreach, to summate a strong response to industry issues or outline what should happen next. A number of defined spokespeople can be used, depending on their area of expertise.
All the tactics mentioned above can help organisations stand out in a competitive market and position themselves as leaders and experts whose contribution is invaluable for the advancement of a specific field.
As opposed to opinion, thought leadership is usually evidence-led, insight-driven, and based on a strong progressive argument in a given industry context. This high value tool not only allows organisations to assert themselves by displaying depth and breadth on key issues, but it also helps them stand out in today’s competitive environment. In a typical PR campaign, news is used to generate the credibility that journalists need to commission or accept pitches for thought leadership opportunities. This should typically be centred around the core spokesperson of an organisation. Although thought leadership is substantially different from opinion, they are often wrongfully believed to be interchangeable.
These tactics have proven successful to secure top rate coverage for many of our clients, including the Open Data Institute, the Medicines Discovery Catapult and the Web Foundation. Not only do they allow Allegory to contribute value to a wide range of industries, it also leads to deepened relationships with journalists.