Avoid a Disastrous Event – Cancel!!!

In today’s fast paced life, anything can happen at any given time; may it be civil unrest or a natural disaster, one can never predict. In such scenarios it is likely that a media event will definitely take a big hit with no-shows and cancellations. Know that it is perfectly acceptable to cancel your event; however, a change in plan such as postponement or cancellation may lead to confusions and even complete disasters. It is advisable for any PR pro to always have a contingency plan ready to be put into action if such a scenario occurs.

The name of the game remains the same – COMMUNICATE!!! Here’s how…

– If you do decide to cancel, email/text all invitees (speakers, sponsors, presenters, media partners, and everyone else involved in the event) immediately. Mark it as URGENT in the subject line to maximize readership of the message.
– Post daily updates on your website and Facebook/Twitter channels about what you’re doing to wind down the event.
– For your regular contacts, show the courtesy of calling them personally and informing them of the change in plans.
– Try and use other PR tools to salvage the news dissemination. Send the news out via emails and fax. Arrange for exclusive sound bytes with local press via phone/email/skype etc.
– Be available and accessible for invitees to be able to get in touch if needed.

Befriending the Media.

PR people are usually a source of nuisance to the media. They hound them to put in a good word for their client, try and stop negative news and are always asking for more coverage for the client. But as PR folk, we must strike a balance and make sure this relationship between our main stakeholders, i.e. – the media folk is of give and take. Let’s see what we can offer them!

Information:
First and foremost, the job of PR folks is to have the information and provide that information according to need. We know what makes good news and we can channel it through to the right audience! Information is also what sets apart a great PR person from the PR folks.

Contacts:
Our highest privilege is our contacts in all spheres of life, especially our clients – we are able to provide access to extraordinary personalities who may otherwise not give the time of day to the media.

Reliability:
The crucial thing about news is, it is time sensitive – PR folk are extremely reliable sources when a reporter has a deadline to meet and input from a client is needed. A PR consultant can badger the client into catering to the reporter then and there in order to achieve two goal;

1. Most important, PR mileage for the client
2. Obliging the media when they need it the most

Corporate Favours:
Quite often you will come across a situation where one of your clients is in a position to favour a certain media person in need of something, example; a discount on airfare, expediting delivery of a product and if you are really lucky – with an exclusive story that the reporter needs. These are small things for the respective client but come across as you have gone over and above and favoured the journalist. Never underestimate the small favours you can do for a media person, they can go a long way and help build stronger relations as well as indebt them to help you out when you are having a dry spell with a client’s PR mileage.

Entertainment:
Albeit being a very small part, PR people need to keep interacting with the media as they are the main stakeholders of the PR industry. It is always good to invite a journalist from time to time to an event of his/her interest apart from work (one company expense of course!) to make them feel special.

Insider Info:
This tool can be used in following scenarios;

1. Crisis management – Imagine your client being in a fix, you are the first person the media will call and you can give them the right scoop while safeguarding your client’s interests.

2. Industry FYI – As PR professionals it is our job to have an insight into the business community. This enables us to keep abreast the latest happenings and serves very well as a conversation starter with just about anybody. The trick is to share your insider knowledge by gauging the journalists’ area of interest and then give them the information as a thoughtful gesture of your close personal relationship with them, especially if the information is not related to any of your clients. It shows that you are well informed and the best source of information for the journalist.

3. The other side of the story – With your contacts, you can help a journalist out in getting the ‘other side of the story’ from time to time. This usually works in the case of policy matters involving large corporations.

PR 101

Growing up to the awesome-ness of Samantha Jones of Sex in the City, PR fascinates many. It looks like easy money – but the truth is it’s not!

To me, PR is living and breathing! It is a career built above all industries, politics and people. It is a lifelong learning which almost always pays off. Here are the basics of what a PR guy MUST know:

 1. Research:

Knowing how to design and execute research is a crucial part of the job. A core PR guy always knows the client’s business better than the client!

2. Writing skills:

A PR guy has the flair of writing. From basic letters to the drafting of a legal contract – a PR guy must know it all!
3. Media relations:
A good PR guy will never rely on allies such as media coordinators etc. They will know reporters, desk staff as well as the editor. Where delegating is an important part of managing the PR strategies, it is always best to be in control of your key stakeholders – the media. Clients will come and go, but good media relations will a long way.

4. Dealing with the media:

A good PR guy will always know how to handle what type and level of media. Where trial and error is part of every work sphere, dealing with the media is not something a PR professional can afford to just wing it!

5. Shaping the debate:

Everybody knows what goes on in mainstream industries. The job of a PR guy is to bring shape to that debate in people’s lives using PR tools to the advantage of their clients.

6. Planning an event:

From press conferences to hosting benefits, to lunches and dinners and so much more, a PR guy must know who to call for what and have the contacts to pull off an event which will be memorable.

7. Crisis management:

The bane of PR is managing the crisis! Identifying the issue at the right time and giving out a statement with sufficient facts to reduce the rumors. Key factor is, the media is the last to know your news, so always give them enough material so they don’t snoop around more, but not too much that they don’t come back for more if needed!

8. Using PR to create advocates for your client:

A good PR campaign will influence the masses. The key to influencing the masses is to convince the messenger to advocate your key messages with conviction. This will ensure good word of mouth and top of mind recall in the target audience.

9. Always tell the truth:

Always keep your ethical obligations in check – never compromise on the truth! Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it’s tempting to skip steps, make assumptions, and push the button before the facts are checked. Sometimes the client is asking you to do things that push the boundary of the truth. Sometimes it’s your boss. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts that will undermine your credibility with your team, client, or employers.

10. Constant Learning:

PR professionals should be among the smartest people on the team. They’re articulate, well read, and care deeply about the subject matter they represent. They keep up on current events, read the newspaper, and know about what’s going on in the world. They must keep abreast the knowledge of everything and aspire not to learn their way about new PR/media tools but in fact want to be the one to invent new avenues of PR.