How To Turn PR Into News

You’ve got an exciting brief from the client – and now you want to turn that into news headlines.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

But don’t be fooled by this dangerous veneer of simplicity. Turning PR into hard news isn’t a precise science, no matter what certain experts will try and have you believe.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen the best-laid and expertly constructed PR news plans scuppered by something as irrational and unpredictable as the latest fancy of a media mogul or the death of a celebrity.

It happens. And if you work in PR, those occasions will crop up when you least expect it, timed by fate to cause the maximum damage to your reputation as a news expert.

This inevitably means, at some point in your PR career, you will be expected to explain to a disappointed client, who has just invested a significant sum in a news campaign, why your ‘guaranteed’ media smash – the story you promised would make national headlines everywhere – hasn’t even been covered by the local free-sheet.

There is no real, convincing, answer, of course. You can’t allow for Acts of God on a Gantt chart. And we all know that if it’s not on a Gantt chart, it never happened.

So, you pick yourself up, re-dress your headline and intro and adjust the tenses then re-design the delivery of your front-page-splash in a bid to surprise and delight under-pressure news editors everywhere.

Acts of God aside, there is a defined route to making sure your PR news release has the maximum impact as genuine news. Like most creative successes, it’s all in the planning.

It’s one thing having that spark of genius. But you need real direction if that moment of flair is to win friends on the battlefield of cynicism we fondly refer to as a newsroom.

For me, precise news planning starts with identifying and targeting your icon. Here’s an example.

This week Brazen devised and delivered a perfect news campaign for our client Al Fresco Holidays. Al Fresco Holidays are experts in European camping holidays for families.

They quite rightly expect PR to deliver them the kind of premium brand awareness that will in-turn put bums on seats in terms of bookings for their high-end family camping holidays across five European destinations.

Three words you’ll need to remember here. Target – Icon – Hook.

High End family holidays – you need to be in the Daily Mail and MailOnline. There’s the target.

What’s the hook? Well, we’re in the middle of the biggest debate on Europe and Britain’s potential exit from the European Union ever. We’re talking about European future, and whether the UK will even have one.

So, Brexit, the potential future of the UK in Europe is the hook.

What is Britain’s and Europe’s future? It’s the children, isn’t it? Regardless of what Britain decides in a EU referendum. So we focus on British children and their knowledge of Europe. Surely, if there’s any hope for the UK’s European future it lies with our kids? There’s your icon.

And that’s how we got to a news story based on a survey that tested British schoolchildren’s knowledge of basic European facts. We knew it would throw up some hilarious, newsworthy statistics – the kind of stats that become golden lines in a national news story. Daily Mail all day.

It worked beautifully. No celebrities died either. Our tale appeared in both the Daily Mail and MailOnline.

We also tied in fantastic quotes from the client about kids not traveling to Europe as much as they used to and how much they miss out on by flying direct or going to an inclusive resort where they don’t see any of the culture outside of their hotel. So, brand messages were on point.

Target – Icon – Hook. Three words that may, one day, save your PR life.

And here’s the story in the MailOnline:

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