Any PR pro that’s been working in the industry for more than a week knows that the concept of a “to do list” can be laughable at times. A big part of what we do revolves around monitoring the news on behalf of our clients, and at a moment’s notice recommending how they should react and inject their POV into the conversation. When that happens, our plans to write a press release or anything else that day are out the window. Maybe tomorrow…
Newsjacking, or rapid response, is one of the aspects of PR that make it stressful exciting. The quick coverage hits that (hopefully) result from a rapid response campaign are enough to make them worth the scramble. But, at March we often talk to our clients about the long-term value of rapid response, and how to use the tactic as a campaign pillar that extends beyond a quick coverage hit.
The following are a few reasons that PR teams should consider rapid response as part of their strategy.
Building Media Relationships
PR pros and their clients aren’t the only ones scrambling to react and develop a POV when relevant news breaks; the journalists reporting on that news are, too. This means, the quicker you can land in their inbox with relevant, vendor-neutral commentary, or offer a phone interview with a credible expert, the better. In the short term, this will hopefully amount to strong thought leadership coverage, but beyond that, journalist friendlies will begin to see you and your client as go-to sources that can help them out during a time crunch. They may come to you next time they’re in need of a source, or be more inclined to get on the phone to talk to your client’s exec or spokesperson about upcoming corporate or product news. Because you’ve established that trust with them, they already know your client has something interesting to say.
Fueling Content Creation
Rapid response commentary also makes for great fodder for content. At March, we may re-purpose commentary (if it is not exclusive to a journalist) for a bylined article, corporate blog post, executive LinkedIn Pulse post or other output. We typically find that topical content that speaks to what’s happening now generates some of the best site traffic. What’s more, media coverage and content around a piece of news can be packaged up in a client’s marketing newsletter or in an email that sales can use as a touchpoint with prospects, to show they have their finger on the pulse of the industry.
Testing the Waters
For young companies, or those new to PR, it’s not always clear right away what their sweet spot is from a media perspective. They may have done some important foundational work to develop messaging, talk tracks, media lists and other tools, but it often takes trial and error to determine what is going to stick and build momentum with the media. Like I mentioned above, rapid response campaigns are a great way to get on the radar of key journalists right away. And, because rapid response campaigns follow the fast paced 24-hour news cycle, it makes it easy to pivot to another vertical, media sector, region, etc. if something isn’t working, without losing too much time and resources.
I could go on. In industries like cybersecurity, retail, and many others where market trends change very quickly, and breaking news of one vendor here or a hacker there can send ripple effects throughout the industry, rapid response is a critical PR tactic. Rapid response may not be conducive to to-do lists, but most PR pros understand that to-do lists are just suggestions anyway.