While we can now meet up to six friends in a park, have a drink in the pub garden and even indulge in some wallet-smacking non-essential shopping with even more freedom on the way, some things have changed irrevocably.
A number of those irreversible changes directly impact the working demographic. For example, a return to the traditional five-day 9-5 working model looks unlikely for most UK companies with many finding that not only can their workforce work efficiently from home, but that there are unforeseen benefits. Somewhat related is the upcoming merger of the virtual – necessitated by longstanding social distancing rules – and physical in the events world, with companies beginning to look at how they can maximise the efficiencies of both to best reach their audiences and place their messages; as well as the more general uptake of tech. Vastly accelerated across industries by the pandemic, technological solutions for communications are now prevalent throughout our personal and professional lives and that is going to remain the case.
In many ways, the PR industry is benefited by the changes. We can stay in touch with each other from wherever we may be in the world and no longer need to advance plan client meetings by weeks to ensure all parties have the time to travel to the same room and sit in it for a couple of hours. Furthermore, the advancements in both technological capabilities available, client willingness to explore those capabilities and audience eagerness to engage in the outcomes means the world of PR has never been more exciting and varied.
Companies know this and our clients are embracing this new tech-advanced age, realising that to stay relevant and appeal to their key customers, they need to stay at the forefront of this movement and keep brand promotion a top priority.
This is good news for PR firms who can offer expert advice and counsel – there is a ‘but’ coming – but it has never been more difficult to get hold of our key facilitators: journalists. Working from home does better connect teams internally but breaking through those barriers with what is essentially a sales pitch is harder than ever.
Luckily, this is what we do, and we have had innumerable and significant successes over the past 13 months. However, our successes have been the product of hard work and strong counsel and would likely not have been possible without a team of experts pooling their knowledge, experience and media wisdom. This is the invaluable package we bring to our clients. Beyond simply ‘runs on a board’, we provide expert counsel based on our knowledge of the media, our experience of what does and doesn’t work, our contacts and relationship building capabilities and – sometimes – a pure instinctual, gut feeling.
A good PR team will push back on a release they believe will struggle to land and instead tweak the angle or suggest another approach. We will stay close to our clients so that we have the knowledge as an extension of the team to suggest and extract strong company stories that will gain media traction in our key target publications and media outlets.
For example, we began working with challenger jewellery brand Astrid & Miyu last May. The entire campaign to date has been delivered in some form of lockdown and we haven’t set eyes on the team, but that hasn’t held us back. Just some of the wins we have delivered include hitting the nail on the head with a brands collaboration pitch that netted interest from Vogue Business – a key target – with a piece published and a meeting set up. Elsewhere, we played to the business’s strengths, netting four award wins and securing three speaking opportunities in front of key audiences – just a tiny snapshot of results within a year.
When it comes to our international law firm client, staying at the forefront of topical issues and beating the crowd with comment is essential. Our counsel has resulted in a run of top-tier coverage in recent months with partner insights into SPACs landing in The i and Global Capital, as well as the inclusion of a comment in The FT on the just-flopped Super League.
There are too many wins to list, but we should mention one last result. A client recently renewed their contract with a comment that must be the highest praise a PR firm can receive – ‘you delivered exactly what you said you would’. That is no mean feat in the current media landscape, but one to which we are committed.