22nd June 2020

Defining Reputations (Or How to Have News Appeal in the ‘New Normal’)

Louise has over 20 years’ experience leading teams to develop high impact communications functions.
She has led several award-winning campaigns delivered by Definition, including three European PR Excellence Awards in the last five years.
She specialises in corporate reputation and crisis management with experience spanning international organisations, Government bodies and consumer brands.

In a world where traditional news media has struggled to stay relevant, appealing and engaging to the masses, the Covid-19 pandemic has massively shifted the goal posts.

Over the last few months as the full impact of coronavirus was realised across the world, the rate at which we started consuming as many headlines as possible – as often as possible – increased unbelievably.

According to Ofcom’s current weekly media consumption survey, traditional media sources (broadcasters, newspapers, radio) remain by far both the most-used source of news and information about Covid-19, with 88 per cent of adults citing mainstream media as their preferred channel, compared to 38 per cent of people using social media as a source. Separate data also shows a 53% increase in Twitter usage amongst 35-54s over recent months – mainly attributed to news sharing.

The spike in the amount of news we are watching, reading or listening to is indicative of the enormous personal impact the pandemic is having on all of us. With every person, every family and every business affected, the importance and consumption of traditional news media has rocketed as we all search for help, support and guidance on the state of play.

Everyone is relying on their digital devices to inform and distract more than ever before, and this is creating a big opportunity for companies, organisations and leaders to engage with a captive audience.

Whereas early stage pandemic news was dominated by infection rate and response statistics, as we move into the so called ‘new normal’, consumers, businesses and journalists are seeking out content that provides more context and colour to the current situation. That means opinion, advice, insight and thought leadership – activity that has formed the backbone of Definition’s reputation management work for years – is now king of content.

From our daily work with journalists across national news and business media, we’ve never seen more demand for authoritative comment, advice and case studies from business leaders, as well as examples of how businesses are reacting to a post-Covid world.

And with the restrictions of lockdown and social distancing hampering many forms of traditional marketing and lead generation, employing a proactive media profiling strategy is opening up a lifeline for many businesses in terms of boosting profile, credibility, client engagement and lead generation.

In the few weeks alone we’ve worked to profile clients including the University of Leicester on BBC Breakfast; Connie Nam, founder of Astrid & Miyu in City AM and The Times Raconteur; Benenden Health in a host of national titles including The Sun and Harpers Bazaar; global employee engagement consultancy Kincentric in The Sunday Times; international trade experts from Walker Morris leading comment in The Daily Express; and European maritime union Nautilus International on BBC News and in The Guardian.

I’m not saying results like this are easy – far from it. But right now there is a fantastic opportunity to stand above the competition, boost trust, engagement, credibility – and get the recognition you deserve.
So, to kick start your own ‘Defining Moment’ in media, here’s my ‘famous five’ tips – or five tips to securing fame and national media exposure for your business, your product or your own personal brand:

1. Be first – there are no points for a ‘me too’ strategy when it comes to media – be original in what you say or try to offer a different perspective on an issue that hasn’t been done to death and place your thoughts in the context of the national news agenda – if journalists are already interested in the issue it will make your ‘sell’ easier

2. Be brave – sometimes sticking your head above the parapet – when you have solid foundations to do so – is a great way to get noticed and stimulate healthy debate – and then further engagement on social

3. Be fast – long gone are the days when media was consumed in three square meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner – 24-hour news has a voracious appetite so if the opportunity is there, drop what you’re doing and work to their deadlines and you’ll get results

4. Be creative – you’ll be amazed how far a bit of fun or creative language will get you in the right context. I was quoted in PR Week and Campaign a few weeks ago for having a bit of fun with the ‘F-word’ in a comms crisis…

5. Be connected – do your desk research to understand your target media and the type of stories they are receptive to (or employ a PR agency to do it!) – Twitter is a brilliant platform to monitor and connect with journalists – the #JournoRequests hashtag is a useful tool to monitor live opportunities for comment.

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