Today is a mammoth day in the history of the shipping line Cunard.
Thousands will line the dockside in Liverpool to see three of the ocean liners perform a ‘dance’ in commemoration of their superb transatlantic travel record.
I count myself spectacularly fortunate to have been a guest aboard the QE2 as a journalist back at the start of the Millennium.
What was so memorable about the experience, however, was how well perfected the PR management was throughout the trip and beyond.
Without question, Cunard can be enormously proud of how Michael Gallagher (Cunard PR boss) and his team take charge of the brand’s reputation and how they honour the organisation’s history with every step of their marketing undertakings, in a way that is respectful and credible – never brash and contrived.
Here’s my top five tips for what you can learn about PR from Cunard.
They can build a story and make it current:
Cunard knows a lot about ‘storytelling’.
That’s a big phrase in the world of today’s PR, and Cunard has always had it spot on.
Okay, so you could argue that’s because they’ve got lots of historic content to tell stories with, but my point is, they’re the masters of documenting the quirky and the factual, the curious and the comical.
They know how to deliver to a journalist from whatever region, country, industry or specialism, providing exactly what content will work best for their end game.
They’re spectacularly true to their roots:
Cunard respects – as today illustrates – that one of its most important historical factors is that it has its heritage in Liverpool.
It knows it has brand significance within the culture of the people and the city, and despite the fact it eventually moved its HQ to Southampton, it has never forgotten how important that geographical location is to its history.
Brands are wise to remember their roots and the people and places which help shape their name.
Remember Public Relations is not only about column inches in the press but about community and brand loyalty through well planned dialogue with those who care and have cause to be interested.
They have passion at the helm of their PR:
I know first hand how incredibly devoted Michael Gallagher is to the brand portrayal of Cunard, as I’ve been lucky enough to have spent several days with him and heard all about his journey into the company’s PR department.
This is a man who hails from Liverpool roots himself and who, as a child ship enthusiast wrote to the company asking for little more than a photo of QE2.
He received one signed by the then PR manager, and that began to sow the seeds of his desire to enter the career.
Michael wrote letters on a nearly weekly basis to the PR department, and after seven years – he landed a role within the company working on the brand’s press.
He’s never looked back.
Great PR works when you have passionate people leading it or contributing to it. Bear that in mind when you source who works for your internal comms team or your appointed agency.
They know when an agency resource is needed:
Cunard does not leave its PR to chance – as you’d expected – and thus, it knows when more resource is needed.
Some brands risk assuming they’re so well known by the media and the consumer that they can somehow take their foot off the gas a little and just carry out reactive media relations from within their internal department.
Cunard things in a corporate and strategic manner and has always appointed agencies where necessary for other geographical reaches of its fleet, or for specific intentions.
Don’t be ‘mean’ about your spend on PR.
Spend wisely on the right resource and use it in combination with your internal capabilities.
It makes it really easy for media to access its collateral:
Even if a brand is known, there’s no excuse for not making it easy for a journalist to get hold of you and your communications team.
Cunard has thought about this and has implemented all the right tactics in terms of making it easy for content to be sourced from the company.
It has an entire online Cunard Newsroom, from which journalists can download data and images.
This is spectacularly useful to a member of the press and means that when it comes to which brand a media representative is going to want to engage with – well, Cunard certainly becomes top of the class!
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