PR In A Pandemic

When the pandemic hit, the initial response of many businesses and organisations was to hunker down, cut back on communications and not to market themselves, their products or services.

For many it just didn’t feel appropriate.

My opinion is that it depends on the type of service or product you provide, as to whether PR was, and is, effective (or timely) during this period.

As consumers we certainly didn’t stop buying or needing. In many areas, this rose.

Spot fresh opportunities

Over the past few months, COVID-19 has forced much change and provided organisations with the opportunity to share news about exciting developments and experiences.

Although it’s been a tough time for many organisations and individuals, out of the pandemic, fresh ways to work, to do business and to provide services have emerged.

One of my not-for-profit clients, Legs Matter, which I work for as part of the Pink Marketing team, decided to share news about different ways of caring for people with serious lower leg problems – brought about by the pandemic.

What to send a journalist

I think once you’ve been a reporter yourself, you always have a ‘nose for news’!

So, I went about building key messages around the angle I felt we should focus on and what was likely to pique a journalist’s interest in the current climate.

I wrote and issued a Press Release with comments from experts, a patient case study and we also supplied an expert Blog for trade media.

As the patient was shielding, photos were taken by the patient’s daughter and health care worker and we offered telephone access to people for interviews.

We made it easy for journalists to write their stories based on the Press Release and case study and to contact us to ask questions.

Reporters are currently under more pressure than ever, so giving them all the right ingredients to make a great story not only helps them but also means you stand more chance of making ‘the cut’.

It’s a reciprocal arrangement and if you both work together the results can be hugely beneficial for both.

The challenges

I’d never done PR in a global crisis before so it was all a bit unknown.

I attended a webinar hosted by journalists a few weeks beforehand which was really useful in knowing exactly what they were looking for and what challenges they were facing.

I found contacting journalists was far harder and took longer. Most were working from home, many were furloughed.

It also took longer to get the key messages and angle agreed as the lockdown situation was changing so quickly.

Things were more challenging on many fronts – many of the health care workers involved had been deployed into the community so were harder to reach and we couldn’t send a professional photographer as the patient was shielding with limited mobility.

But with an interesting patient story and details of radical new ways of caring for people to share, we honed the messages and then it was out of our hands and over to the Media.

 The resulting PR

See a selection of the coverage below:

Mail Online and Mail on Sunday Articles

Primary Health Care Article

The Press Release was picked up by Mail on Sunday’s health desk after a phone call and also made its sister outlet Mail Online.

Good editorial coverage was achieved in national health media also.

This coverage will reach new audiences and continue to drive traffic to the client’s website for the lifetime of the articles.

It has meant potentially life-changing and life-saving information stand a far great chance of reaching many more people, all round the world.

It’s estimated the articles will be read almost 700,000 times over their ‘lifetime’ and have already been shared on social media hundreds of times.

The online readership of these outlets is over 300 million and coverage is far reaching, credible and sustained.

How to share your news with the Media

As I start media outreach again, things are not surprisingly different. That aside, there are still plenty of opportunities and by following some simple steps, sharing your story is still well worth doing as long as it ‘stands up’ as news. There are other ways of course to share your key message if it’s not strictly speaking ‘new’ – I’ll cover that another time.

  1. Get a unique, relevant story

I’ve said before – news is all about something new – the fact that many of the health care professionals at Legs Matter were providing care differently and that out of a negative situation involving a deadly virus, many lives were improved and will be saved, instantly struck a chord.

  1. Time it right

It obviously wouldn’t have worked if we had issued the story once services had changed – it had to be while it was happening and as close to the start of it as possible so it was still new.

  1. Give the Media what they need

View my video for tips about what the media are looking for and how to position yourself and your organisation head and shoulders above the competition.

During lockdown, I secured a BBC Radio interview and coverage for a client because I spent time researching the different programmes which were currently running and which journalists to contact with what information.

You need to send the right information for each outlet/programme/feature/column and always to the right person.

And always issue it at the right time.

  1. Don’t give up!

I should start by saying, please don’t be a nuisance – don’t call on deadline day or first thing in the morning or at the end of the day.

If you do, you’re likely to get short shrift because journalists are under huge time constraints to meet their deadlines. COVID-19 has only made this worse.

Do email over your Press Release, respond to any questions they ask quickly and follow up with a phone call 2-3 days later.

Often the journalist hasn’t seen the release in their sea of emails and you will be asked to send it again. At other times they are glad you’ve called as they just haven’t got round to contacting you to find out more.

I get the most media coverage when I call and email afterwards to give a gentle nudge – NEVER be demanding!

  1. Don’t get it wrong

Press Releases have to be interesting, a proper news story, topical, contain at least one relevant comment (that doesn’t just repeat the heading or first paragraph of the release) and ideally have a professional-quality image or access to some.

Make sure there are no typos or inaccuracies as this not only looks sloppy, it doesn’t instil confidence and the journalist probably won’t pursue it.

  1. Be available

If a journalist is interested in potentially running your story that’s brilliant – news coverage is worth 2.5 times the value of advertising and carries a lot more clout and credibility as it’s endorsed by a third party.

Be prepared to give up sometimes several hours to answer the many questions that a journalist may need to ask you to write their story.

Also, to be available to give an interview – if it’s requested.

There’s nothing that’s going to make reporters more frustrated than not responding to them when you’ve contacted their publication in the first instance.

  1. We are working differently

It’s far harder to get hold of many journalists currently. Many are still working from home (so the office number doesn’t reach them), they are also working different hours and sadly many have been laid off.

Be understanding about people’s circumstances. Remember the better you write your Press Release and the more relevant it is, the easier it is for a time-pressured journalist to run it, rather than look at it and decide they don’t have the time for a complete re-write.

  1. Don’t newsjack unless it’s relevant to your industry

Journalists I’ve talked to say one of the most irritating things to occur in the pandemic is the tenuous links that many Press Releases contain, just to try and piggy back on another announcement.

It just doesn’t work and could be counter-productive as that journalist may press ‘delete’ without even opening future emails from you.

Is it worth trying to ‘get in the media’?

Yes, if you have a strong enough story. Being visible in the national or regional media is worth its weight in gold for a number of reasons:

  • Raising your profile⠀
  • Establishing your position as a thought leader⠀
  • Reaching new audiences
  • Driving more traffic to your website
  • Selling more of your product/service and raising awareness in a non-salesy way.

Book a 15 minute chat with me by sending me a DM or email at cathy@catherinekellypr.co.uk

Still unsure?

Read some of my testimonials:

“We were fortunate enough to have Cathy as a part of our project team delivering an awareness week for one of our not for profit clients. From the start Cathy was delightful to work with and immediately got to grips with what was required (despite the fact that for her, it was a new client and area).

“She was an excellent team player and over-delivered in all of her areas. She was tenacious in chasing things through to completion and extremely thorough. The PR we achieved completely surpassed our expectations and hopefully we will get to work with Cathy on an ongoing basis. Highly recommended and a joy to work with.”

Kerry Wiles, Director, Pink Ltd

“When we wanted to publicise the launch of our new company, Cathy was my first choice as she’d previously been my global PR manager, was extremely capable and good to work with. Thanks to her experience and skills, we gained some fantastic national coverage within our target industry and were offered a valuable speaking opportunity at a prestigious event.”

Tim Richards, CEO, Future Resume

I’ve been working with Cathy for nearly 1.5 years, after she was recommended to me.  She writes and manages all our social media, advising on the best channels and specifically focuses on LinkedIn and writing our Blogs. She is experienced and knowledgeable, especially about using LinkedIn as a marketing tool, which is a big plus.  She also advises how to best use our marketing budget and which activities to focus on. She regularly steps in with an expert perspective on specific projects, such as content for adverts and helping us to overhaul the website – rewriting key pages and advising on the best design. She’s kept up to date with the latest marketing tools, which is good news for her clients. She’s proactive, professional and provides an excellent communications and PR service. “

Dermot Kennedy, partner, Giltinan & Kennedy LLP

“Since starting work with Catherine Kelly PR our media presence has jumped about 10 fold. Cathy is able to advise on how to go about securing the best coverage and has used a variety of channels, resulting in both print and radio coverage. She also set up and established our social media presence which has grown in a short space of time – giving us valuable extra exposure.”

Ian Inglis, Bluebird Care

“I know the wellbeing team are really pleased with the coverage they are getting and it’s great to see the Health Champions name in the press so much. People can see the good work that is going on.  You have made such a difference to raising the profile.  I only wish we had you on board sooner!”

Karen Dennison, Director, Health Champions Training

“I have found Catherine Kelly’s PR service invaluable. Catherine quickly understood my business requirements; produced a plan to meet them including an agreed price and delivered a high quality product, to budget and within the agreed timeframe. Throughout the process Catherine was great to work with; and I would definitely recommend her work to others looking for a professional, high quality, PR service.”

Nikki Gibbins, Director, Achieving Together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall in love with communicating…

As it’s the second month of the year (and we all know what happens on February 14!),  let’s focus on how you can fall in love with communicating and, more importantly, enjoy the benefits that consistent, good communication brings.

Instead of viewing it as just another must-do, I want you to think about embracing communication and  learning to love what it can do for you, your team, your organisation and business. Make it part of the way you work and operate.

Why? Because if you can crack the communications conundrum – you’re onto a winner and everything will work better within your business or organisation.

Staff advocates

Your staff will become some of your best advocates if you communicate well with them. Instead of them hearing about a major piece of company news from the media or on social media, make sure they always hear it from you first. This relates to sharing both positive and negative news and stories.

And it’s not just media stories you share with them, you ensure that your channels for staff communications are two-way, that they can access updates in a way that suits them and they can feedback too.

Getting them onside is crucial for lots of reasons, not least, for making it a happy, productive place to work, enabling you to be the best at what you do (benefiting the customer or end user) and for attracting fresh new talent.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Being prepared with good communication takes the heat out of a crisis, because you’re ready with your statement. And a major announcement doesn’t send you into a flat spin – you’ve chosen when to make the announcement to your target audience.

You’re ready to deal with the resulting enquiries and possible media attention as you have statements prepared and you’re primed to do interviews.

And if there’s a major Government announcement that has repercussions on your industry – stay one step ahead by getting a press release or statement ready to issue. Maximise every opportunity.

Be proactive

Being proactive and taking control not only feels better – it is better.

For example, one of our clients has developed a prototype hydrogen car and because we were monitoring the likely contents of the Budget, we were able to write a media statement commenting on the investment of greener mobility. We made it a) relevant and b) interesting because hydrogen didn’t attract the same interest (and planned investment in infrastructure) as electric transport. The media like someone who isn’t afraid to stick their neck out as long as it’s relevant.

We prepared and issued a statement – tweaked it at the last minute to ensure it was 100 per cent in line with the Budget contents and it was featured in the Sunday Times and a top trade publication among others, resulting in thousands of views.

It’s another way of reaching your audience, building credibility in your industry and making your voice heard. The more you do, the more trust you build, the easier it is.

Seeing the value of good communications, whether it is sharing news with your team, your customers, potential customers or the industry you operate in needs to become your focus in 2020.

Book your complimentary 30 minute consultation with me here https://calendly.com/ckellypr to see how you can turn communication into your competitive advantage. Talk soon.

Events that shaped me | West Sussex Health PR Blog

 

I was in my early twenties when I first saw what professionally trying to ‘dodge the bullet’ looked like…

I was attending a meeting of very senior professionals (clients) in London, who following a serious failure in the system, were all in agreement that at the forthcoming public inquiry they would not give any media interviews and would literally stay quiet and disappear out of a side door at the end.

I can still remember not quite believing what I was hearing and willing one person to challenge the decision. You don’t have to be in PR to realise that you have to be accountable for your actions, especially in a position of seniority.

It was left to me, sweaty palms and all, to stand up at one of the largest boardroom tables known to man and explain why they should ditch their plan and instead prepare to do as many interviews as the media asked for.

Avoiding media suicide

After a bit of coughing and shuffling, they reluctantly agreed. I’m still proud of my younger self for that one – it was terrifying at the time, but I knew their plan would be media suicide and more importantly, it was fundamentally wrong not to take responsibility.

They got pretty fair treatment from the media. It was balanced reporting and even though it was critical, they were able to explain their position and comment on the report. They were also able to explain what measures they were introducing to avoid the situation happening again. Without giving a Press Conference they wouldn’t have been able to do that.

It was critically important for anyone affected by the incident, the organisations involved, their community, other stakeholders and tax payers that they were communicating and accessible. It helps to rebuild trust. It shows you appreciate the seriousness of the incident and you care.

Ultimately, we’re all accountable for our actions, or we should be.

The right approach

Not communicating would have been the very worst thing they could have done that day, even though it was difficult to face the media, it was the right thing for them to do.

In the run up the day the inquiry report was published, I made sure they received the right support, help with answering media enquiries, writing statements, arranging interviews for them to take part in, media briefing and training.

I’m pretty easy going but I won’t ever go along with something I feel is the wrong approach just to keep the client happy.  After all no one would thank me if I didn’t take pre-emptive steps to limit any possible negative coverage and to ensure both sides of the situation were reported on.

I learned that about myself three decades ago in a board room in London J

About you

Are you running your own business or important project and feeling overwhelmed by how to manage the communications?

Do you feel frustrated that your key news isn’t reaching your target audience?

Are you stressing that your communications are disjointed and that you’re missing valuable PR opportunities?

Are you worried that your tone and branding aren’t consistent?

Do you spend evenings and weekends trying to do your own promotion and need to reclaim your life?

Do you want your LinkedIn profile to help you to attract your ideal client? Do you want to get leads after people have read your posts, come across your profile or connected with you? Are you short of time or don’t have the expertise – or both? I can help you to reach your ideal clients by making your profile and summary resonate, by connecting and building your following. My LinkedIn development packages start at £250

Whether you need someone to write a Press Release, run your Communications function, deal with media calls, rewrite part of your website or write tailored social media, I can help!

This is Hugo Spowers, client, taking part in an interview after media picked up on the Press Release I wrote and issued.

About me

I offer:

✅   Professional, proactive and reactive PR and communications support?

✅   Help to raise your profile and content perfectly tailored to your audience?

✅   Valuable media coverage worth 2.5X advertising space?

✅   Increased credibility in your sector?

✅   A higher online profile through effective website, social media and media?

✅   LinkedIn Content to attract your ideal clients

Why me?

I love my job and when we work together I become an invested partner in the success of your organisation.

Since setting up my boutique agency in 2015, I have worked with several leading public and private sector organisations, managing highly-successful campaigns in the healthcare, social care, recruitment, education and sustainable technology sectors.

Drawing on my experience as a PR and Communications Manager and former journalist, I work with companies and organisations of all sizes, fulfilling their communication needs.

I have helped website traffic increase by 250%, gained national newspaper, magazine and television coverage and supported three successful crowdfunding campaigns with PR, raising over £2 million. I have provided Press Office cover, dealt with countless media enquiries, written publications and helped successfully manage negative online comments.

I provide a tailored service to just a handful of clients at a time, ensuring you have the benefit of my many years’ experience in the industry.

See a selection of our media  coverage here:

Mail Online and Mail on Sunday pieces

iNews Article

The Sun

Primary Health Care

Nursing Times Patient Blog

Nursing Times Article

Are you in?

Book in for 15 minutes of my time to ask me anything you want about your PR, communication and marketing calendly.com/ckellypr

Still unsure?

Read some of my testimonials:

“Gaining features in relevant and well-regarded publications helps to build trust in our business and therefore encourage new customers to try our products. This was OjO’s first ever PR campaign and Cathy was an extremely reliable and invested partner in our success. Ultimately, we successfully funded our crowdfunding campaign and we believe that getting PR coverage early on in the campaign was a key driver of the success of the campaign.”

Freja Smith, Learn with OjO Marketing Manager

“When we wanted to publicise the launch of our new company, Cathy was my first choice as she’d previously been my global PR manager, was extremely capable and good to work with. Thanks to her experience and skills, we gained some fantastic national coverage within our target industry and were offered a valuable speaking opportunity at a prestigious event.”

Tim Richards, CEO, Future Resume

“Working with Cathy on various communication projects within West Sussex County Council was an absolute pleasure. Her knowledge, professionalism and skills allowed us to create positive key messages and quality items for publication and printed resources. I would recommend her to anyone needing a consummate professional to deliver both strategic and operational projects, effectively communicating with different stakeholder groups throughout.”

Sarah Dimmock, West Sussex County Council

“We engaged Cathy recently to provide extra support to our company whilst staff were on holiday. She was previously employed by us for a couple of years, so we knew we could be assured of a high standard of work complemented by a pleasant, efficient demeanour; she is a pleasure to work with.”

Stephanie Lee, Jonathan Street Public Relations, London

I’ve been working with Cathy for nearly 1.5 years, after she was recommended to me.  She writes and manages all our social media, advising on the best channels and specifically focuses on LinkedIn and writing our Blogs. She is experienced and knowledgeable, especially about using LinkedIn as a marketing tool, which is a big plus.  She also advises how to best use our marketing budget and which activities to focus on. She regularly steps in with an expert perspective on specific projects, such as content for adverts and helping us to overhaul the website – rewriting key pages and advising on the best design. She’s kept up to date with the latest marketing tools, which is good news for her clients. She’s proactive, professional and provides an excellent communications and PR service.  “

Dermot Kennedy, partner, Giltinan & Kennedy LLP

“Cathy helped us to reach new audiences and build SEO backlinks around our Kickstarter campaign. On top of this, she provided invaluable expertise for how to choose the right images and messaging, and emphasised the importance of having research and evidence to back the PR story and help increase our chances of success.”

Freja Smith, Learn with OjO Marketing Manager

“Since starting work with Catherine Kelly PR our media presence has jumped about 10 fold. Cathy is able to advise on how to go about securing the best coverage and has used a variety of channels, resulting in both print and radio coverage. She also set up and established our social media presence which has grown in a short space of time – giving us valuable extra exposure.”

Ian Inglis, Bluebird Care

“I worked with Catherine Kelly PR and was exceptionally impressed. I had attempted to use a couple of other PR services, but the results were disappointing.  During our first three months,  she secured a number of PR opportunities, including several newspaper articles, radio interview, monthly column and a large magazine feature.  Not only this, but she is knowledgeable about social media, blogging and speaking engagements.  She listened carefully at our first meeting and assessed my needs – and then drew up a tailored plan to meet them.  Our budget is fixed, with the opportunity for flexibility where required, so I have peace of mind.  I would not hesitate to recommend Catherine Kelly PR.  She is a delightful person with whom to work and a total professional.”

Miranda Banks, Director, Smartivate and Excel in Exams

“I know the wellbeing team are really pleased with the coverage they are getting and it’s great to see the Health Champions name in the press so much. People can see the good work that is going on.  You have made such a difference to raising the profile.  I only wish we had you on board sooner!”

Karen Dennison, Director, Health Champions Training

“I have found Catherine Kelly’s PR service invaluable. Catherine quickly understood my business requirements; produced a plan to meet them including an agreed price and delivered a high quality product, to budget and within the agreed timeframe. Throughout the process Catherine was great to work with; and I would definitely recommend her work to others looking for a professional, high quality, PR service.”

Nikki Gibbins, Director, Achieving Together

Let’s chat, calendly.com/ckellypr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Events that shaped me | West Sussex Health PR Blog