Clients change, messaging changes, markets change, priorities change and you change. There is very little about our job that stays the same. Even reporter’s beats change, meaning the person you spent the past 12 months developing a relationship with, might not care about your client anymore.
The job of the PR professional is to be an agent of change, helping your clients or company update and evolve its approach, message, programs, etc. so that they can leverage the change that swirls around them. It’s not easy and requires dedicated time and effort from senior members of the team. Often at agencies, this work is left to junior team members that might not have the experience to understand the changes, or appreciate how they might impact a client or company. It’s a learning curve that everyone goes through, so agencies and in-house PR teams need to ensure they have the processes in place to ensure junior team members understand the who, what, where, when and why of a successful media interaction plan.
Of course, it goes beyond staying on top of who is covering what at any given publication. It’s keeping on top of the market drivers that are changing within your client or company’s industry. This presents opportunities to engage with reporters, bloggers and other influencers that might not otherwise be interested in your company, and could lead to more detailed or specific coverage of your company.
A recent example is the changes in the HIPAA requirements that were announced last fall. We had a client that had just launched a product for this market a few months prior. That meant that they were not well-known to the reporters covering Healthcare IT, so while some had expressed interest when the product first launched, interviews didn’t always translate into coverage. We followed up with our target list in advance of the ruling going into effect and offered our client as a background resource to explain what these changes meant to companies working in the field. The uptake was much higher as we’d set up our client as an expert on a topic that reporters knew they’d be writing on. These interactions lead to several key stories in both the healthcare IT vertical, but also several in higher level tech and business press. This all came with the added bonus that our client is now a trusted resource for these editors and our agency is known as one that doesn’t just pitch client news.
It’s also important to make sure that the broader market understands any changes or shifts your clients or company makes as they evolve and grow. The last thing a company needs as it makes a change is for the industry pundits to misunderstand, misinterpret or misconstrue a change for something that it is not, especially if the change is dramatic, such as a product redesign or executive departure.
Bottom line, your job is to help your company through any change or transition it might go through. And when you do, stay calm (see Tip 1!)