By Susan Cole, Divisional Director at Storm Communications
Timing in PR is everything. Too late and you’ll miss the boat and too early you may jeopardise coverage opportunities and be overlooked. What might work one day may completely fail the next, so from awareness days to piggy-backing the news agenda, what is the best approach?
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I’m sure there will be a flurry of activity amongst PRs trying to land coverage for their clients. From sparkling rosé to heart-shaped chocolates and pink lingerie, press releases will be landing on journalists’ desks explaining why your special someone deserves to be treated to a gorgeous gift. It seems like everyone is trying to jump on the bandwagon – even as I write this an email has just popped into my inbox promoting a series of influencers who can help ‘stir up some romance’ and communicate your brand story this Valentine’s. But with a plethora of special days, weeks and months dedicated to all manner of causes and issues, have awareness days had their day (excuse the pun), or will they always play an important role as part of the PR strategy?
Aligning a client’s brand with a national day or event does, in my opinion, still have merit and can help communicate your brand story – but it takes more skill than simple product placement and needs to be carefully considered as part of the bigger picture. We need to constantly evolve and look at trends and consumer insight to help inform and develop strategies.
Awareness days can give you a chance to express your client’s personality and provide an interesting topic of conversation with your target audience. Choosing which days to align with is important and rather than using too many, the day should relate directly to the business or industry. An example of a clever marketing strategy for World HIV/AIDs Day on December 1st was created by the (RED) charity. They partnered with some of the world’s most iconic brands such as Apple and Durex to spread awareness of HIV and AIDs and successfully engaged consumers whilst raising significant donations for the cause.
Whilst preparation is key for awareness days, the best PR stories are often those that are not planned and are reactive – capitalising on the media agenda and immediate news to drive brand relevancy. The move by Madame Tussauds to remove Prince Harry and Meghan’s wax figures from other members of the Royal Family was ingenious and came promptly after the announcement that they were to be dividing their time between the UK and North America. With blanket coverage in national, consumer online and broadcast media, the story not only worked well from a media perspective, it fuelled debate and conversation in offices and homes across the UK.
Another clever example of effective timing was Sainsbury’s move to compare Beyoncé’s Ivy Park range to its uniform on the day her new collection was launched. By sharing a snap of a member of staff in his uniform with “the original” written across the picture in bright orange, Sainsbury’s cheekily piggy-backed on the news and it paid off. Fans went crazy on twitter and the majority found the story hilarious, joining in on conversations and adding their own humorous observations. Coverage shortly followed across the online media spectrum and spanned not only consumer and online news sites but trade and regional too.
So timing is just as important as the angle and content and with the right amount of proactive and reactive activity, we can make an impact – one that won’t just generate column inches but will make consumers sit up and take note.