The UK General Election - 4th July 2024

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Why traditional and modern PR skills go hand-in-hand

Adam Manning

Senior Account Manager - Advent

Over the past decade, the PR industry has undergone a major shift in terms of the tools that it has at its disposal to support a client’s communications requirements.

The most powerful that has emerged is undoubtedly social media. Not only is it a conduit by which stories have the potential to reach millions of people within minutes, it has spawned additional tools where, for example, companies can target their content at users based on their location, or browsing habits.

Despite the growing dominance of digital avenues, their effectiveness in terms of delivering the right messaging, to the right people, and at the right time, will ultimately be dictated by the strength of the story.

And, no matter what the medium, if you want to get attention it’s vitally important to make sure you stand out from the crowd.

PR stunts and idea generation

An area to which I’d like to pay close attention is PR stunts, as they have proven time and time again of their effectiveness at being able to help organisations attract positive coverage.

We must not lose sight of the fact that the success of any PR activity is built on solid ideas, and the communications channels – no matter how cutting edge they are – are secondary to this.

Having trained journalists as part of a communications team has proven to be a major asset for the PLMR Advent team over the years. It is this knowledge and experience that helps to identify how to make an organisation’s products or services relevant to the news agenda by finding the relevant news hook.

A great example of this, is a recent project we undertook for a client, which aims to promote its members and put the region on the map to attract more visitors.

With the 2022 FIFA World Cup imminent and all set to dominate the news agenda, our team approached a farm to see if they would be happy for an animal with close links to Qatar – an alpaca – to predict some of the scores of the games*

They duly agreed and so we set up a photo shoot and media event that would allow Alfie the Alpaca to show off his soothsaying skills.

After careful consideration of how to sell it to the media, the stunt was covered in nearly every national newspaper in print and online, reaching millions of people – an example of the coverage can be found here. The story flew because it was a quirky idea that was linked to a subject that was on everybody’s lips at the time and it brought great profile to the region.

The bottom line was that, while a light-hearted subject matter, hundreds of thousands of people read about the venue and were aware of it for the first time.

Although this idea was proactively self-generated, there will also be times where an organisation is in need of PR for an event it is running.

An example of this is when PLMR Advent was tasked by Stratford Town Council to publicise the unveiling of a restored 18th century statue of William Shakespeare.

And, while that had potential for great headlines, the council – based in Sheep Street – wanted to leverage the fact that giving Sir Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench the freedom of the town gave them the right to graze sheep in the town.

We worked with the council and the result was the two Hollywood superstars, parading along Sheep Street leading a couple of photogenic sheep in front of a phalanx of press photographers and TV crews.

This resulted in PLMR Advent delivering headlines nationally and internationally.  Again, the subject matter might have been humorous – but it achieved way more exposure for the town, the council and the statue than a “straight” story would have managed.

The day was organised by Stratford Town Council and PLMR Advent were commissioned to produce media in the lead up to the event, invite press, and arrange a photocall; with major news channels, media channels and newspapers generating more than 250 press clippings in the UK and internationally.

Media contacts

Regardless of the strength of story, there is still the challenge of ensuring it gets into the right hands so that the maximum levels of media coverage are achieved. Before any story is issued – or indeed written – consideration should be given to which media sectors it could work for – whether that is B2C, B2B or both.

At PLMR Advent, our strong journalistic roots mean that not only do we create content we know will appeal to media, but we also know how to approach journalists in the right way when we have a story. Due to this strong reputation and our wide network of contacts that we have built up over the years, we are often approached with opportunities for our clients to capitalise on.

To find out how we could support your organisation’s communications requirements and help you to stand out from the crowd, please contact us by emailing info@advent-communications.co.uk

*Alfie the Alpaca has decided to remain an attraction rather than move into full time sports prediction/betting!

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