Even an organisation with a sophisticated PR strategy can be derailed by reactive PR. Whether it’s grasping the nettle in the wake of bad press, or capitalising on the kind of golden opportunity that simply doesn’t come around twice, reactive PR is both a challenging and increasingly fundamental part of the modern media landscape.
When it comes to reactive PR opportunities, however, getting eyes on your brand is only a tacit goal. Capitalising on the opportunities presented by relevant news stories means providing value to broadcasters and audiences – and having the ‘broadcast bravery’ to put yourself and your spokespeople at the heart of a developing story can be really quite straightforward.
Reactive PR: Becoming Broadcast Brave
Being reactive always requires a degree of bravery. After all, the timescale on which you’re acting is much shorter than normal, and the execution needs to be flawless. While some stories will drop into place naturally – such as when we placed a spokesperson from Guide Dogs on the BBC News Channel two hours after a video about accessibility went viral – some reactive PR opportunities will require a deep understanding of a story that is only just developing.
Other times, you may be acting not to capitalise on an opportunity, but to address an unpredictable news story that negatively involves your brand or organisation. Here a timely response isn’t just an opportunity for exposure, but a vital tool to shape the narrative in your favour. In both cases, going into the interview armed with the knowledge you need – and the skills to communicate it – is critical to a positive outcome.
Investing in your readiness to respond to these events – and cultivating an “always-on” broadcast PR strategy that enables you to fulfil the needs of broadcasters – is what we call being “broadcast brave”.
Becoming broadcast brave can be broken down into three main areas:
It’s vital to be plugged into the rolling news agenda, and have a sophisticated awareness of the needs of news producers. This connection to the daily news agenda lies not only in pitching proactively, but also applying specialist expertise to predict what stories are on the horizon.
This is one of the chief benefits of our Newsroom. Our monitoring of key news events not only flags up scheduled events, but works to predict and track breaking news stories. If interest rates are liable to rise or inflation to fall, we keep relevant parties in the loop – positioning them to be part of the conversation as soon as the story drops.
Part of this awareness is also being appreciative of how your spokespeople reflect your brand, and the makeup of your business. If your staff includes a diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints, reflecting this in your choice of spokespeople can enable you to provide more knowledgeable and authoritative voices on a wider range of subjects. If you’re preparing multiple spokespeople, it makes sense that they should be a representative sample of the breadth of your talents and acumen.
There is no such thing as being too prepared, particularly when it comes to reactive PR, when the lead time for an interview could be a matter of hours, or even minutes. Media training ensures that new spokespeople know what to expect, and provides a helpful refresher for more seasoned professionals. As well as making them more comfortable in an interview setting, it should also teach them what producers are looking for, and how to project a consistent and compelling brand image.
Your senior leadership team will naturally have a comprehensive knowledge of your industry, but this doesn’t always mean they’re best equipped to distil that subject down for TV or radio. While a good briefing before the interview is key, laying out the story and your position on it, a great reactive PR strategy will hone this working knowledge into key talking points and soundbites ahead of time. This will ensure that the most relevant and unique insights are clearly and concisely delivered, and that the spokesperson has something to fall back on in any difficult moments.
Your talking points and brief will form the basis of the quote offered to producers, giving an outline of the spokesperson’s views and what they plan to say during the interview. Establishing these takeaways on key issues ahead of time – and updating them as the industry zeitgeist shifts – will engender confidence in your spokespeople, and give them a steady foundation from which to approach any reactive PR opportunity.
Reactive PR is inherently unpredictable, and more than one opportunity can crop up at once. As such, it’s important to train multiple spokespeople to the same level of preparedness, both in anticipation for covering different stories, and for concurrent media appearances. This involves media training and an immersion in industry talking points, but also the ability and mindset to be interviewed at short notice.
One advantage of the modern broadcast landscape is that spokespeople don’t necessarily need to be in the studio to provide their viewpoint. While this makes reactive PR far more accessible, it can increase the pressure on spokespeople, who may need to suddenly divert themselves from their work, and be willing to rearrange should there be a change of plans. It also highlights the need for at least one designated space for conducting reactive PR interviews.
The internet offers no shortage of examples of challenging reactive PR interviews, from toddlers obliviously striding into shot, to certain objects in the background proving more interesting than the interviewee. The space you conduct your interview in can say as much about your organisation as the contents of the interview, so curating this space – from the objects on a bookshelf to the colour scheme and branding – can make all the difference.
How we can help
Broadcast Revolution’s Newsroom facilitates the news agenda. Ideally placed between brands and journalists, our two-way relationship prepares spokespeople through media training and consultancy, and provides producers with the expert voices they need to add depth to a story. If you would like your organisation to become broadcast brave and capitalise from an always on broadcast strategy, get in touch today.