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  • Writer's pictureRichard

Six PR strategies that just need cracking in 2024




For brands or agencies falling into unfulfilling routines or repetitive 'blah blah' traps of not being heard or cutting through, positive changes don’t always need to live in overly scoped out project plans, budget recuts or rebuilds.

 

When it comes to smart PR and comms strategies,  richer storytelling, pumped up attitude, better listening behaviour and simple shifts of tone can make a significant difference to profile, presence, impact and audience buy in. Just by doing it.

 

Starting here with six ‘mix it up’ missions, strategies and challenges to live your business louder and prouder.

 

1 Be More Human


In lockdown, smart brands realised being helpful, useful and generous was the winning formula in tough times. Less push/sell and more pull/engage. So where has all that intelligence gone in equally challenging times? Why have brands stopped being human and switched off engagement mode? From language, to narrative, to content formats, now is not the time to think ‘control’ is smarter than accessibility and being grounded in what matters to the audience. Be flawed, be open, be less corporate, bring the humour and the empathy. Just bring what feels relevant for the time and not blind to reading the room.


Be more real. Be more understanding. Be of actual value.



2 Be less message obsessed


But put more focus on narrative and storytelling. As in stop repetition of exact key phrases in conversations, because as the Government are increasingly finding, repetitive soundbites increasingly grate. Core story yes, robotic repetition, no. Clear focus and consistency yes, but plain English explanation over fixed phrases to go with that. Trust comes in part from storyteller credibility and obvious script reading doesn’t land that well.


Build the story, not the shortcuts, to bring people with you



3 Have more opinions


Kill off the bland. Be less Captain Obvious. Stand for something. No more predictable ‘we are excited to announce/proud/ delighted to...’ statementing, because of course you are. And who really cares about that??

But focus more on what your news means Why is it challenging? Why is this needed right now? Where is the CTA in the most important part of your story, the human part? Opinions flow from your insights and ambitions, so bring them to the fore and help land the relevance that matters most and not just the awareness that matters less.


Be bolder and make people understand, not overlook, the crux of what is important



4 Ensure culture is a comms role, not just an HR one.


A team that understands the big picture and story, sees opportunity to share and build pride, and that has enough visibility of leadership to trust company direction is key. And that means including teams first in any comms flow, explaining the ‘why’ behind actions, listening and empowering more, co-creating values, and using colleagues as brand ambassadors. This is so not a new idea. But is still bizarrely a blind spot for many.


Almost every culture project I have been involved in recently throws up surprises, and equally smart and doable fixes to improve challenges identified. As long as communications builds the storytelling for that to lift things above the functional (see 1, 2 and 3 above!)


Invest much more in listening, as cultural engagement boosts real productivity.



5   Build plugged in boards


If reputation management isn’t a focus around the top table with a specialist advisor in the mix, you are playing a risky game. Reading the room, nuancing the story, seeing round comms corners and calling out the risks in decision making is a planning essential.


For brands this isn’t a role for a non-specialist to own, when comms people are those who major in seeing everything ‘in context’. And who understand choice of individual words and tone can change a whole outtake from any situation.

And for agencies, an advisor who isn’t too close to the wood to see the trees, and who can bring the time to look beyond the surface is the differential you advise your clients to have through your own services, but too often skip over for yourself. Hmmm.


Find the c suite consigliere 

 


6. Break. The. Goddam. Pitch. Process


You know you want to. You know it needs reinventing from both sides, agency and brand,  to build in MUCH more time for engaging with each other. Test thoughts. Workshop thinking together. Get under the skin of what a partnership could look like rather than run the tired old beauty parade of 5 or 6 creds decks and equally perky pitch teams. Find who you can rely on and work with beyond a big idea from both sides, because that’s the day to day reality. Are minds, styles and attitudes aligned to make the right difference beneath campaign glamour? Have you invested the right time and in more original formats to find that out? Has someone helped broker a meeting of collective minds that can work together to help you win


JFDI. Be more ballsy for all the right reasons. And be more human, to find long term partners above and beyond smart doers.

 

Collectively this is about minimal budget investment. Massive satisfaction. Richer standout. Sharper collective business direction. And deliverability without mass disruption.


Any barriers are mostly only attitude shaped, and therefore beatable. If you of course, for mix it up mission 7, hire the right storytelling consultant and bringer of time to make strategies live beyond the theory…

 

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