Hold that Hot Take – Brexit Lessons for PR teams
It’s been three weeks since international news cycles were shattered by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Arguably one of the biggest geopolitical events of the decade so far, ‘Brexit’ brought days of wall-to-wall coverage across mainstream media outlets and continues to dominate headlines, with experts commenting not just on the ‘hows’ and ‘whys,’ but also on the ‘what’s next.’
Beyond the top stories of economic and political fallout, swathes of industry-level commentators emerged to deliver their opinions on what Brexit meant for their businesses. From video games to aviation to Scotch whiskey and Stilton cheese, the takes kept coming. And while some were timely and welcomed, many were simply filtered into a cloud of noise that earned ridicule from journalists.
This wasn’t the first geopolitical earthquake in recent memory, and it won’t be the last. And they do have real ramifications. Brexit, for example, didn’t just shake up the markets; it had transatlantic IT teams raising questions over EU data laws and how they would apply to infrastructure in the UK. Issues like these need to be managed by the relevant parties with the appropriate messaging and marketing strategy.
But if you’re just looking to be considered part of the broader commentariat, it’s important to be more discerning about whether to go ahead with that hot take.
Here’s four vital questions to ask before shoehorning your brand into that breaking news story:
Are you really contributing to the story? This is a question that should be asked regardless of what you’re pitching, but it’s more critical than ever when trying to leverage a groundbreaking event. When major news breaks, and dominates the headlines for days, audiences are overwhelmed with opinions and takes from all directions. If you’re not adding useful advice or sharing an overlooked perspective, you’re less of the signal and more of the noise.
Are you risking offence by commenting on a hot-button issue? Even the most middle-of-the-road comments on a provocative issue can spark a furor from your audience. Unless your brand revels in provocation – which some do – it may be best to take the safe road.
Do you need to be a part of this news cycle? Tech PR teams are often pressured to keep their brands relevant and top-of-mind on a regular basis. But sometimes, it’s okay to miss a news cycle. Unless it’s well within their wheelhouse, it’s not the end of the world if a major event dominates the news and your client isn’t part of it for a week or so.
Is this the best use of your resources? As with any pitching opportunity, consider the likelihood that your angle on this event is going to result in valuable coverage. If it’s not looking good, you should probably dedicate your resources to a more meaningful venture, rather than spend time on a fruitless pitch.