Taking wing from MWC and TFM&A
Gongs galore, we’re wrung out from show season. Last week saw Technology for Marketing & Advertising (TFM&A) and broadcast’s Broadcast Video Expo (BVE) and this week Barcelona hosted the mobile industry chart-topper Mobile World Congress (MWC). Panda-eyed Babelites started to limp back yesterday from the four-day conference after a gruelling 130 media briefings.
This was a baptism of fire for our new graduate team. My first project when I joined Babel was leading our 2014 Graduate recruitment programme. Following a fair amount of intensive formal and on the job training, they’re iridescently taking wing from their chrysalises, culminating in a phenomenal MWC. So, for graduates looking to join the trade show fun in 2016 here are our top ten PR101 tips:
- Don’t ring the journalist just to ask if they got your press release. Really, don’t. Ever. Instead explain why it is a story for them. Think of their audience. What matters to them?
- Do start with the headline. If you can’t sell it in 30 seconds, it’s not going to work. Then add the detail. Where can your client add value to the industry debate? What’s your unique pitch? What will resonate with their audience?
- Don’t fumble – if half the battle’s the story, the other half is confidence. Do you believe in the story yourself? Does that come across? Get to the point.
- Do try and come up with an unusual aspect to the story. Remember that you are storytelling. “Man Bites Dog” versus “Dog Bites Man”. At the very least, make sure there is a story! Don’t be too introspective. Your client is not the centre of the universe, but most likely has something interesting to add to the debate, and probably also some coalface insight or data. Find it and use it.
- Don’t just use research as a lamppost. It’s ok to use it for support, but it is better if you go beyond that, using it as illumination. If your client is commissioning research, how does it illustrate a trend, reveal the pain points or demonstrate potential?
- Do know your stuff and do your homework. What has the journalist written about recently? Does this fit? Be ready to back your pitch up. Trends? Data? Customers? Colour? Yes, please.
- Don’t ask if you can see their story. This is often a request from US clients and can be a cultural thing. But don’t be swayed.
- Do be realistic; it’s more believable, and refreshing too. Don’t descend to hyperbole, or over-sell. We’re cynical in the UK, and will switch off. “Every silver lining has a cloud” is many a journalist’s perspective. Don’t encourage them to dig.
- Don’t allow your client to brief off the record. There’s no such thing. It’s a minefield. And if briefing formally in advance, don’t forget to mention (and agree) the embargo.
- Do take journalists out for a drink! While I’ve always believed that a strong story will fly of its own accord, in time your own credibility will gain currency. People will pick up the phone or answer your email just because it’s you, and they know you can be relied on for a good story. And sometimes, you might get an invaluable favour. Though don’t count on it! Maintain that mutual respect and professionalism, but it’s OK to ‘ave fun – those panda eyes are there for a reason. Back to Cannes Boat Party? You had to be there!
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