We’re always happy to hear the news that one of our clients has appointed a corporate communications lead with journalistic roots. It means we don’t have to spend time explaining why the latest product version xx update is unlikely to hit the front page of the FT any time soon! Yet, it’s also quite surprising how effective the corporate brainwashing machine can be in removing that vital objectivity within a relatively short period. One of the biggest challenges PR agencies face is in wheedling out those little nuggets of information that can form the basis for a truly great PR campaign. Often, they’ll crop up at the most unexpected times and places as a casual throw away comment in chat with a spokesperson. Yet, spotting those glimmers of enlightenment is often what separates out the good PR practitioner from the rest. It’s about grabbing those snippets of information with two hands and developing them into a fully-fledged campaign that will offer an original and enlightening perspective to potential customers.
Often telling a client that we want to organise a brainstorm is a sure-fire way to stop the creative juices flowing – particularly if it’s conducted on a phone line and with a huge number of people. Much more successful is a face-to-face conversation with one or two people, so that no one feels constrained by political considerations that might jeopardise their job. It can be tough for a junior member of the team to outshine the boss with their dazzling creativity!
One of the most valuable skills for any PR person is the ability to ask great questions. Gently probing a spokesperson around topical subject areas, based on a sound knowledge of the subject matter in question, is a key skill that’s invaluable in searching for new ideas. A good internal corporate communications person, who resists the corporate brainwashing and retains enough objectivity and authority to dismiss those shallow sales hype stories and focuses instead on digging out the valuable gems of information and helps educate their company spokespeople on what is genuinely newsworthy, is a rare beast indeed and one that all PR folks value enormously. These internal contacts become the ‘eyes and ears’ who sniff out potential news angles and identify those scraps of information that the spokespeople think everyone knows – simply because they are dealing with them every day – but which in fact can become the inspiration for a great storyline or thought leadership article.
So, the moral of this story is that the skills that agency personnel value most highly from their client-side contact is not the alacrity with which they demand the latest monthly report or press clipping summary, but their ability to sift out the PR gold dust from within their organisation to help the agency develop genuinely newsworthy and interesting new insights into old problems or enticing visions of the future through the eyes of the industry experts. Central to the ability to achieve this effectively is the status of that internal PR person within the organisation and their ability to be an internal consultant adding value to the agency/client relationship, not merely the conduit or intermediary to set up press briefings or relay press releases. This relationship between internal vendor corporate communications lead and external agency is vital to developing truly outstanding exposure for your business and such partnerships are worth their weight in gold to both vendor and agency!
Dianne is the founder of éclat Marketing and is responsible for keeping our B2B tech clients happy as well as bringing new ones into the fold. She has heaps of experience in launching tech companies in the UK and loves a good challenge when it comes to getting stand out coverage in the top tier national and business press. In her spare time she works for a local charity organising an annual music festival called Gig on the Green to raise money for sports in the local community.
éclat is a PR agency specialising in IT Security, Broadcast, Mobile, Cloud & Managed Services. For more information about how we can help with your marketing, give us a call on 01276 486000.