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Inspiring PR Strategies: Key takeaways from the Cision CommsCon event

Joining hundreds of PR professionals for a day of insight, debate and discussion, I recently attended the #CommsCon 2018 event hosted by Cision. Designed to inspire PR and comms strategies for the year ahead, attendees heard first hand from major brands and journalists, topics included: how roles in the industry have changed; what stories they want to hear from PRs; how to ensure your creating content with a purpose; and the best approach to crisis management.

Below are the key takeaways from the event to help inspire your 2019 PR strategy.

Purpose driven content … why does it matter?

While most organisations recognise the value of creating content based on news, shared interests or worthy causes – to have content with a real purpose extends beyond that. As Peter Heneghan, Head of communication at LADbible said during the discussion, “We often get asked, what are the core ingredients to make something go viral – actually, the intention shouldn’t be to go viral but to make content an audience will love and relate to.”

In order to successfully create purpose-driven content it’s about being authentic and making sure what you do resonates with the target audience in mind. Secondly, it’s a story telling activity. Emma Hazan at Hotwire PR put it simply: “If you don’t have a good story, no one is going to be interested and no one will want to share it.”

What do journalists want?

So you’re ready to sell in a story to a journalist over email – but what is going to get their attention and make them choose your story to publish?

Thanks to the rise of digital and social publishing, there are increasing opportunities for PRs to get messages out there – but many are failing to consider the demand of modern-day journalists who are inundated with emails - leading to a disconnect. The key to catching their attention is by showing you have an interest in the topic you’re pitching and have done your homework. As Ellen Stewart, Head of Content at Pink News said, “The main thing I want from a PR is knowledge in our subject area and an approach that says to me – you’ve actually read the content on our website.”

It’s also vital to build relationships with journalists. Whether you have a story or not, finding out what they would be interested in hearing about can help later on down the line.

What to do in a crisis?

A communication crisis can be anything from an offensive tweet to a hacking scandal, however one thing all panel members agreed on the day was that in this situation, leaders need to act fast, prioritise and have trust in their team.

Being able to take responsibility for whatever has happened is also important. As Jenny Packwood, head of brand engagement at KFC said, “Saying sorry isn’t always an admission of guilt – in fact, if written in the right way it can be quite powerful.” Ultimately, by staying true to your brand and tone of voice, will gain credibility and goodwill among the media and your audience.

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Zahra Abedi

Author: Zahra Abedi

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