Don’t let your great PR idea get hijacked

5 May 2016, Blog

We’ve all been there – worked tirelessly on developing and executing a great PR idea, only for other events to hijack the media agenda. In just the last couple of months the bombings in Brussels, the Panama Papers leak and the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations have dominated the media space.

So how can you plan for such situations arising to ensure your announcement gets the exposure it deserves?

  • If what you are launching is not time sensitive, but you’ve already alerted the media to it only for another event to take over the media agenda, then inform them that you are rescheduling the launch. We were confronted with this situation when launching a major report for a client on how consumers were unwittingly being location tracked by their mobile phone providers. We had started the process of selling in national print and broadcast exclusives, only for the Brussels bombings and the offshore funds scandal to break in a matters of days of each other. However, this did not deter the media in covering the story when we made them aware that we would safeguard their exclusivity by holding back the general release of the story by a few days. Consequently, the pick-up was not affected and the desired results were achieved with the story appearing as an exclusive in the Guardian.


  • Understand what else is going on around the time you are planning to make an announcement – whilst some situations cannot be planned for – acts of terrorism, a major disaster or a high profile death, for example – a number of potentially conflicting events can be – major policy announcements by the Government such as the Budget or the EU referendum; major court cases such as the Hillsborough hearing; and significant events such as the Queen’s Birthday.


  • When you are starting to plan a major announcement, talk to journalists that you have a good relationship with and you trust – see if they are aware of anything that could scupper your story on the day.


  • Be on the front foot and understand when major announcements/events are going to take place which impact your business or sector so you end up turning them into media opportunities. Develop a PR calendar of such opportunities during the course of the year so you can approach journalists with your suggestions before the competition does. Add value to the announcement/event by providing your own twist to the story – for example we were aware of a report published by Customs & Excise into the number of counterfeit goods that are traded at Christmas time, so we developed a survey into consumers’ attitudes and concerns towards such practices for a specialist IP law firm, which generated national media exposure.


So whilst things don’t always go to plan when you are launching a media campaign, there are steps that you can take to mitigate the risks of an event or major announcement hijacking the media agenda.


By Chris Lawrance, Managing Director

JBP Staff Member

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