Preparing to be reactive with PR

By Aimee Crossland
14th April 2021

Since being hit with a global pandemic, we’ve realised how things can change in the blink of an eye. The world has had to adapt in such a short space of time, and in PR it’s been no exception.

Everything we do now has to be tailored to the ‘new normal’ and that means being reactive as well as proactive. With the news constantly changing, and more people working from home, consumers want to be digitally entertained 24/7.

This means it’s not enough anymore to only react as something occurs. If we want to get ahead of the game, we need to know what’s coming, and respond before it even happens.

Remember Sainsbury’s clever PR move? The one where they compared Beyonce’s Ivy Park range to their uniform on the day her collection was launched. It was the quintessence of rapid and reactive thinking. This is the suit to follow so we remain at the forefront of people’s minds.

So, how do we prepare to be reactive with PR?

1. Be a trend predictor

It’s easy to be a trend spotter. However, things are constantly evolving. So, being a trend predictor will give you the edge you need to remain relevant.

Whilst it’s easier said than done, understanding your clients on deeper level will help with the art of prediction.

Don’t get us wrong – we know identifying emerging trends and acting upon them can be a task and a half. However, with a few pointers, anything is possible!

Know where to search: You can find inspiration on Instagram, browse TikTok for viral posts and see what’s being said on Twitter. Let’s say you have a client in fashion. Well, first thing’s first, monitor those celebrities known for their style. Collect information from catwalks, Instagram, and street style galleries.

Combine this with relevant shopping data and voila, you could crack the next big trend! Even Netflix and Amazon Prime’s coming soon section can offer useful insight.

For instance, let’s talk about the Netflix hit – The Crown. It’s no secret there is an ongoing fascination with the British Royal Family. So, when Netflix announced a series all about them, it was definitely a lightbulb moment.

The new, young generation of women look up to Princess Diana, recognising her as a fashion inspiration. This was the perfect opportunity for brands in the fashion space to get reactive with their PR strategies.

It’s a given; once people watched the show, they’d be dying to know how they could recreate her outfits. So, hit them with a where to get the look piece, before they even know they want one.

Preparation is key: Remember, it doesn’t matter if the trend hasn’t quite fully developed. Get together a list of topics and ideas you’ve spotted in the news that you or your client can discuss. This way you’ll always be ready to react should a particular story gain attention relating to your client’s industry.

Journalists will often have a book of go-to expert commentators, ready for when a story breaks. Why not get there, before they have time to even open that book.

Get your expert comments, press releases and infographics prepped beforehand. So, when the time comes, you know you’ll be ready to react as soon as a trend unfolds. Plus, you may even be able to drum up coverage before it does!

Don’t ditch the old: When it comes to reactive PR – old is gold! Just because something has been done before, doesn’t mean it’s completely useless. In fact, there’s lots of news out there that will have its time once again.

It’s safe to say we all love a good game of guessing the next royal baby’s name. When Princess Eugenie announced she was pregnant, we created a campaign for baby and children’s retailer Kiddies Kingdom on the most popular royal baby names and the logic behind them, which gained coverage on Tatler and Express and Hello!.

Here is where being prepared to rejig old content is key. When the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan then later announced she was pregnant – we could then repurpose this content and seed back out to gain even more coverage on the likes of Woman and Home, MSN, and Yahoo.

When you need to react quickly, there’s nothing wrong with reworking what you already have. Being able to adjust content so it’s relevant time and time again is priceless.

So, read through your client’s existing content and think to yourself: can it be repurposed, or can we add extra data to get more coverage? The key is to take something you’ve created and put a fresh spin on it. This way you’ll reach new audiences, improve organic visibility and reinforce important messages.

Don’t just rely on National Pizza Day… but know it’s there: There’s pretty much an awareness day for everything now, from National Pizza Day to National Awkward Moments Day.

Whilst they can sometimes be useful for creating timely hooks for clients’ stories, don’t just jump on the bandwagon of using such days for the sake of it.

There’s so many of them now, and as people take a stab at trying to make them loosely relevant for their clients, it’s made many journalists cautious of commissioning them. However, we’re not saying disregard them completely.

If there’s a day dedicated to celebrating pizza in all its glory – we’re there! However, rather than throwing out any old response, think, is this valuable and relevant to your client.

Good reactive campaigns can utilise national days, but by doing it in a way that’s not too obvious, what needs to be remembered is that an awareness day isn’t a story. So, before you go ahead with one, ask yourself does this align with my strategy and is it suitable for my client?

2. Get to know your clients well

Expert comments can be a great way to position your client as a thought leader and an authority in their industry, so get to know your clients and ask them those burning questions! They’re industry specialists so use this to your advantage – maybe they’ve got some juicy insider knowledge that you can use for a unique story.

When it comes to spotting reactive comment opportunities for clients, we need to be quick on our feet. Make sure you’re aware of who the appropriate spokespeople are at their organisation and get sign off processes in place beforehand.

The difference between a sign off in minutes compared to several hours makes all the difference for getting that feature. Do this, and next time a journalist needs expert insight, your client will be their first choice.

3. Get in first

By doing all of the above, you’ll bust your way through the noise and gain traction, as well as securing those all-important links. Don’t dilly dally, if an opportunity arises, make sure to get it out of the door fast and make sure you’re monitoring media outlets throughout the day, so you don’t miss out on key opportunities.

If you’ve planned well, and got your reactive strategy in place, client sign off should be speedy! Remember – it’s the difference between coverage and losing out to a competitor and no one likes being late to the party!

What’s the key takeaway? Timing is everything. Too late and you’ll miss the boat.

Planning is just as important as the angle, content, or campaign. With the right amount of reactive activity, you can make an impression and get your clients name out there.

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