Best Kept Secrets in Public Relations

October 10 2017

When it comes to public relations, the best-kept secrets are those protected by the PRSA Code of Ethics. This means PR professionals will keep proprietary information proprietary and would rather go to jail before disclosing business secrets.

Now, here are three secrets. Each of these secrets assumes you have an excellent relationship with the media.

1. The News Embargo. There are times when the timing of news is critical. Often, key media may not be available to tell your news story to target audiences important to you. Because of your relationship with the media, you can provide the news story and indicate which day and even time the news embargo will be lifted. If the media agrees to honor the embargo, they are in. If not, they do not receive the story. Of course, these will be major stories.

2. The Newsworthy Story Angle. How can you get local coverage when the news hole has become so much smaller because of the evolution of media outlets? These days, you may be finding your placement rate has gone south.

Start by considering what’s happening in the news today. How can you or your client become a part of the story? How about current consumer trends? Where are consumers heading and how can you tie in?

The idea is for you to provide a comment that connects you to the current news. Just think how hard your local media tries to localize national news. Ask yourself how many media outlets most recently connected their reporters to former or present residents in hurricane-ravaged areas or the Las Vegas tragedy. This gives you a hint as to the value of riding on the shirttails of today’s headlines. By the way, good national news can work just as well as bad news for your hook.

3. Go Off-the-Record. How many times can you ask the media to speak off the record? Not often. But you can speak off the record, if your relationship with the media is honest and fair. Sometimes your client just needs an hour or a day to produce the statement, obtain legal counsel or assume a healthier frame of mind to face embarrassing news.

When contacted by the inquiring press about a breaking story, there is no reason why you cannot ask for time by promising to share the news exclusively and in-depth with the reporter at a later time. This type of situation demands mutual respect and trust between the PR professional and the journalist. In the end, the whole, truthful story is told. Only a few hours or days pass.
We have seen good companies, communities and people survive when the timing of news is right. On the other hand, we actually have seen good companies, communities and people die from early exposure and incomplete news treatment.

So how secret are these secrets? Public relations professionals are in the business of obtaining media placements for their clients. Keeping a client out of the news is sometimes better than obtaining media coverage. So, what PR secret will you share?


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