Updated: Oct 10, 2021
Is there even a definitive answer? A recent webinar I participated in tried to unlock and share the secrets to great PR. It was an online event hosted by Alice Weightman, CEO of The Work Crowd.
We were joined by Joan O’Connor – Head of Brand & Corporate Communications, Subway EMEA and Zaiba Malik, Director of Coppergate Communications. We were also joined by over 100 professionals from various business sectors and companies both large and small.
How does PR work?
For starters, we talked about the two sides of PR. On the one side where a Company is in control of your message and informing your audience in a proactive way. On the flip side where PR is used in a reactive way, for example to counter negative press. All businesses, both big and small, deal with both sides of the PR coin at some point so it’s important to know how to manage both. However for this discussion we centred on how to generate great PR.
What makes a great PR campaign?
Ask yourself ‘What do you want to achieve through a campaign?’, ‘What are your objectives?’.Try to focus on what you want to say, who needs to hear your story and how best to reach your audience.
If you start with these key questions you’re ensuring that your story is strong enough to share with the media and third party influencers.
Your story needs to be embedded with honesty and authenticity. Always ask yourself the question ‘what does this mean and what impact will the story have?’
Remember that there are various stakeholders who will interpret your message from individual perspectives. For example, investors will be looking at the message in terms of the financial impact it could potentially have on the business. For customers they will be reacting to the message in terms of why this product or service is important to them.
What PR pitfalls should you avoid?
Undoubtedly, in a post-covid world, consumers are questioning the integrity of brands. Corporate responsibility is a major factor for many consumers when making a purchasing decision. Your company’s strategy towards climate challenges, EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) and internal company culture need to be transparent and hold up to the scrutiny of the customer. Make sure you practice what you preach!
The panel were asked the question ‘who is getting it right?’ Large companies have been using humour and social responsibility to great effect during the pandemic. For example Burger King encouraged consumers to support fellow fast food chains during lockdown, Aldi’s brand benefited from positive PR when responding to M&S threatening to sue over Colin the Caterpillar cake by sending out humorous tweets!.
These strategies make the consumer feel good about the brand. It’s quick, easy, inexpensive and positive PR.
However many smaller companies and start ups are getting it right too. For example Dale Vince, the owner of the electricity company Ecotricity and Chairman of Forest Green Rovers. In a sense, he is both a brand and the representative of a brand doing good for the world. His football club is the world’s first vegan club and 100% carbon neutral. His brands are inspiring climate action and he is holding governments to account. It’s important and relevant.
Understanding the cultural mindset of where society is right now is key to success.