By Christine Blake on

When News Breaks: 5 Tips for Rapid Response

Blake: "In positioning our client executives as Thought Leaders, it’s important to get them out in front of the news cycle, to offer compelling perspectives and distinguish them as respected industry experts on tech topics."

Blake: “In positioning our client executives as Thought Leaders, it’s important to get them out in front of the news cycle, to offer compelling perspectives and distinguish them as respected industry experts on tech topics.”

In a recent blog, W2Comm’s Tony Welz wrote about how an effective rapid response strategy plays a key role for many of our clients. At our high-tech PR agency, we stay on top of news which breaks early and often. In positioning our client executives as Thought Leaders, it’s important to get them out in front of the news cycle, to offer compelling perspectives and distinguish them as respected industry experts on tech topics.

After joining this agency in April 2012, I’ve had many opportunities to help coordinate and execute rapid-response plans. Everyone here – from the junior staffers to the very top leadership – contributes to our day-to-day successes in meaningful ways, and this includes rapid response. This is great for professional development. No PR class in college will ever truly prepare you for the moment when a reporter is scrutinizing your client to decide whether to move forward with your pitch. When there’s a big tech story out there – like a major network breach – these journalists are overwhelmed with pitches from the competition. Here’s how we ensure that our clients stand out:

“Be prepared.” While you don’t want to overload reporters with too much information on the first pitch, you must provide them with the core, essential information required for them to make an initial assessment. Do you have text-based background information which directly speaks to the breaking news event, along with your client’s “take?” Do you have company-approved sample statements ready to send? How about biographies? If the reporter is ready to do interviews now, do you know your client’s availability schedule?

Know the reporter. It’s important to distinguish your client during rapid response. But it’s also key to distinguish yourself, and your agency. At W2Comm, we pride ourselves on maintaining in-depth relationships with reporters. We carefully review the news every day to get a sense of what various journalists like to write about, as well as the approaches they take. Which means when we pitch them, we’re better positioned to engage them and command their attention – and, hopefully, their respect.

Qualify opportunities. We don’t put clients “out there” for every single breaking-news story either. If we did, then reporters will view our team as the equivalent of an ambulance-chasing law firm. Quality is more important than quantity. With this approach, we’ll convince clients that the effort is worthwhile. And the media will pay more attention to what we’re presenting.

Keep processes in place. The “rapid” part of the process can come at you in “fast and furious” fashion. So it’s important not to let best practices fall by the wayside. If we allowed any chaos to affect our performance here, reporters and/or clients would form an unfavorable impression. This isn’t acceptable under any circumstance. We make sure all correspondence is addressed completely and seamlessly. We keep our professional cool even when we’re hit with the unexpected. We send clients daily recaps so they know what happened that day and what is still pending.

Engage early and often. We like get a jump start on our competition. Producers and bookers will schedule programming before 10 a.m. Reporters for publications like to know what they’re doing for the day about the same time, and then start doing interviews well before lunch. And, while we live in a digital age, we don’t “default” to email only. When you actually speak to a journalist, you have a chance to really engage and connect in a way that will pay off indefinitely down the road.

It’s great to work at an agency in which everyone has the opportunity to “prove themselves” during a busy and exciting breaking news cycle. As a result, we’ve placed a high volume of client interviews in the most high-profile of business publications and cable network shows. If this sounds like something you’d like to find out more about, than contact us.

@CBlakePR

Christine Blake is a senior account coordinator at W2 Communications.

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