Navigating today’s competitive news environment is a daily challenge for many PR pros. Journalists are increasingly busy and receive thousands of emails from PRs trying to pitch stories, often in quite clumsy ways!
Cast a glance at the social media feeds of many a frustrated journalist to find a myriad of stories about how PRs get it wrong! So PR professionals need to intelligently seize opportunities to showcase an organisation or individual’s expert view on the news of the day. That’s what reactive media relations is about.
Equally important as the proactive approach to media relations, reactive media relations gives organisations the opportunity to display proficiency and thought leadership in a wide range of issues. Media monitoring is key to this exercise, as it is what allows PR practitioners to identify key stories where their organisation has something of value to say – the end goal being to position the organisation as a highly respected and knowledgeable expert on a variety of issues. There are different ways to respond to a piece of news, and here are three of the most effective.
Reactive comment is a core part of the reactive media toolkit. It is about responding to relevant news stories with pre-defined messaging, to raise awareness of an organisation’s work and communicate a robust position. This requires access to multiple spokespeople who can respond quickly to an identified piece of news. Comment is ideally signed off and shared with the press within one to two hours to stand the best chance of inclusion. Comments that don’t make the cut can be used for letters and subsequent outreach. No content should get lost!
Statements are used in a similar fashion to comment, but seek to extend the news story, offering a pertinent or urgent insight, correction or evolution of a news story. These should be shared with the press the same day if possible and aim to generate next-day coverage. Although they fall under the category of the reactive media toolkit, in some instances journalists would go directly to a specific organisation for an expert view. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen all the time, it is therefore important that PR pros be proactive in identifying suitable statement opportunities for their clients so that they become top of mind for journalists. Long term, the organisation will be recognised as a highly respected leader in a specific realm and journalists will inevitably contact them to get their perspective on issues.
Letters are an often overlooked tactic to get a point across. Inclusion is far from guaranteed, but if responding to an interesting story, making a strong rebuttal or concurring argument, they stand the strongest chance of being included when from a business or from a well-known individual. As with other reactive media relations assets, they have the potential to put an organisation on the radar and help them demonstrate their expertise.
Although there is no such thing as guaranteed coverage, leaning on a robust media relations strategy yields great results. Using a strong approach to media relations, Allegory has succeeded in helping our clients’ work and message get the attention they deserve in the media and across complex networks of stakeholders.