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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Making the News Your News - CCTV PR example

picture of 4 CCTV cameras with artificial colours
Forward Vision CCTV camera fantasy collage by Penny Haywood Calder

Engaging with the media on their own news agenda is the easiest way to get PR mentions, yet potential clients often look anxious about that idea, despite us offering media training support that shows them how the media think. I wrote for IPC magazines for 10 years and my husband was with the BBC for 30 years, so we have a fair insight into the very different needs of journalists and broadcasters, and how they go about their business.

Fortunately for us, some smart business people are more than up for working with the news.

A brand new CCTV client fed back yesterday that the new Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg had called for regulation of CCTV. For those of you who are not into CCTV, the figures are not good. According to a Home Office report, the police indicate 80% of CCTV evidence is "not fit for purpose." Clearly, Nick Clegg feels "something needs to be done." Our client is a CCTV veteran steeped in CCTV compliance. I immediately asked him for a response. Back came a great comment which I rushed out.

We got excellent take-up where we wanted it: in the trade press. We're now several weeks ahead of my results forecast and the client (and his company - VMS CCTV Ltd - VeriFi CCTV) got name-checks in the media, demonstrating their expertise in CCTV compliance. We even got an offer to write a full feature article for a magazine on the back of that release. That's the sort of result we had scheduled in a lot further down the line - we are very careful to manage client expectations.

It's hard to believe that we have lost PR pitches for suggesting these news-led tactics. Yet many people are happy to suggest a PR agency pumps out marketing and sales-led non-news. But they still want promises of stellar results in serious media....

The point is that the news agenda consists of the topics that are proven to interest most people. They are often topics that obey Lord Reith's famous dictum that the BBC's purpose was to "educate, inform, and entertain." I believe those three words are still in the BBC's mission statement. As an international brand, the BBC haven't done too badly with them. And so can you.

News-led PR works on and offline: people don't park their brains when they switch on a computer.

Long may we continue to attract clients that buy into those three small words that have inspired the BBC. They make it easy for us to be successful. And like most human beings, we thrive on success and we are our own worst critics when it comes to failure.

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posted by Penny Haywood Calder at > 1 Comments


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