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Public Relations: The Art of Predicting the Unpredictable

September 25, 2014 Bradford Group Administrator

UnpredictableBlogPublic Relations is a time-sensitive occupation. It often runs in tandem with the news cycle, which can change with the wind. As a PR firm, there’s excitement in knowing that no day will be the same as the last, yet we also promise to deliver tangible results for our clients. So, how do we control the chaos?

Do the heavy lifting at the beginning.

When we take on new clients and implement a marketing and public relations plan, it’s not uncommon to spend more time on those accounts in the first few months than we actually project. That’s because we’re laying the foundation from the get-go for doing efficient work later on. Doing things like creating media lists and identifying key industry influencers to reach out to is time-consuming work. But, if we do it at the beginning, all of our resources can be devoted to generating publicity for our clients should something newsworthy come along down the road.

Timing is everything.

As PR professionals, it’s our job to understand the news cycle. Identifying when to pitch can be just as important as deciding who to pitch. We make it a priority to discuss with our clients the timing of their publicity efforts, often advising them to organize their efforts around when we know journalists and news outlets are most receptive to stories. So while the news might be unpredictable, we can still exert some control by crafting a targeted media strategy based on industry best practices.

Shifting priorities.

Being in public relations means allowing priorities to change in combination with the news cycle. Is there something in the news that a client can comment on? Does your client have internal news that might hit the news circuit? Establishing early on in the day what work is time-sensitive is a crucial part of ensuring that clients are reaching the media as needed. Honing prioritization skills is key to delivering results in a career with little day-to-day consistency.

Setting clear client expectations.

Knowing exactly what you’re expected to deliver, especially in an agency setting, is a prerequisite for establishing priorities. Having open lines of communication with frequent discussions about PR and marketing efforts helps ensure that goals are being met as agreed upon. Teamwork between the agency and the client makes for the most successful PR: when the agency is aware of what’s going on in the client’s world, and there’s a clear goal, getting the client’s message out to the media becomes second nature.

While daily tasks change often in our profession, there are certain day-to-days that we can predict, like when we should focus our pitching efforts and how regularly we speak with our clients. By knowing that unpredictability is inherent to the job and having procedures in place from the beginning for how we handle change, we’re able to deliver results to our clients regardless of the media environment.

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