Yet vendors need a good dosing of PR education.
A big challenge for PR people is how well they surf a news wave. Like the waves crashing off Rincon, Puerto Rico, news cycles break suddenly and dissipate gradually.
Tidal-wave news is easy to spot: Michael Jackson, BP oil rupture, Japan’s tsunami, bin Laden, Sony and Michael’s data breach… all tidal waves easy to spot. (I wanted to add the Royal Wedding to this list but we all saw that one coming ashore miles away.)
And here is where the savvy PR person can show his/her surfing talent. It begins with recognition. Real work begins once you spot the sustaining power of certain news stories. Preparing for these in advance of their occurrence correlates to another kind of preparedness: crisis communications.
But really now, most companies have no need for CC. My small tech clients don’t build nuclear plants or food or pills that can actually kill people. Tidal-wave stories need another kind of preparedness: educating your vendor/client to the PR pitch process.
Preparing for the big news cycle is this: the savvy PR person will know that there is always a Day 2.
We cannot predict the Day 1, when front headlines cry for attention. The opportunity is realizing that reporters will be more desperate on Day 2 to find new angles and expert sources; they’ll be most receptive to your pitch.
And the almighty pitch is where it’s at. How can you link your vendor-client into the big picture? What new analysis or opinion or conclusion can be drawn from yesterday’s headline story?
I bring up CC because it has a lesson to teach. Your client spokespeople should be ready to go for Day 2 of tidal waves. They need to be told that daily reporters demand immediate action and response. Press deadlines are yesterday.
And vendors should give their PR people direct access to key spokespeople with no ‘pre-approval’ delay by gatekeepers. Trust is a factor, of course. The vendor needs to respect the PR process and trust the PR person. (Of course PR people must first earn that trust.)
A sense of urgency has to prevail, and PR people must prevail upon the expert source. It starts with education, trust, and some media training.
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