I love working with enthusiastic clients – the ones who ring you first thing in the morning when they’re super-charged with ideas and inspiration, and have scarcely finished brushing their teeth.
But that Duracell-esque energy does occasionally need dampening down when you’ve got a client who’s so ready to jump the gun that they risk toppling over their own feet!
Time and again in my PR career, I’ve found myself faced with the eager-beaver client who has suddenly decided they’re ready to make a new announcement, launch a new service, shout and scream about a new initiative.
The problem comes, however, when their NOW is your ‘Now means certain failure. You’re so NOT ready for NOW’.
While I always love to capitalise on client momentum around PR ideas, it’s been proven many times over that brands can often fall foul of bolting just a little too quickly.
I was reminded of this this week, when the story broke in Canada of the humble Mac & Cheese Fest.
Okay, granted, we’re not talking about a world famous event and I can see you rolling your eyes at why I would mention a Toronto foodie event. It is, after all, hardly like staging the London Olympics without decent preparation.
But, the case is just as important.
The festival organisers had envisaged in their mind a ‘small business’ event which would attract circa 5,000 people on the first of three days. In fact…17,000 showed up!
Glory, glory what a PR win you may hail. But is it?
Not really. The fact that they’d underestimated their audience power, or specifically legislated for any swing in attendance (to that degree) meant a great deal of grumpy people who’d hoped to be part of it, and a really bad taste left in the mouths of residents who were livid about the impact on their lives.
Not so bad if they’d been able to capture the data detail of every single one of the 17,000 – because at least they could have that next time. Instead, there’s a whole lot of explaining and ‘putting right’ to be done.
My point is, the PR power exists at the fingertips of those like myself who want to gather an ‘audience’, be that for an event, a service, a brand awareness initiative, or any other objective.
But a brand which deploys either formal PR or some random community social media activity without thoroughly thinking it through and having a clear action plan to cope with the consequences, is worse off for doing so.
Here’s my top tips for PR preparedness:
Be sure you know who you’re aiming at and focus hard on that core audience when you look at news output.
Is now the right month, right time in your product cycle, right time in the financial year? Think it through carefully and ask others to challenge that thought before you go firm.
Consider the impact of your ‘story’ or activity. Will it create consequences of workload or other for your staff? Will it impact your supplier, your community, even your competitors?
A great PR activity has follow-through opportunity from the moment you start planning, so structure in your call to action. Seize data for future reference, find ways of engaging with those who attend or respond to your efforts. Don’t let them be a ‘one time’ customer.
Don’t try to do everything yourself. Allocate tasks around your initiative and ensure that you have ‘buy in’ from all parties.
When you’re finally ready to push the GO button, reward where you’ve got to but remember to review. A delivery of any kind is only a success if you not what you’re benchmarking success against.
**If you’re interested in seeking my advice around PR or marketing matters, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Pic by Stuart Miles