We live in a fast-paced world of modern media. Information, sometimes misleading, can travel at the speed of a simple click. Consumer attention, too, can be a fleeting commodity.

Particularly, dare I say it, among the younger generations who have grown accustomed to swiping mindlessly and effortlessly at screens. Politics is not immune to having sensitive and potentially damaging information leaked and subsequently shared on traditional and social media platforms. The need for a dynamic and responsive approach via carefully messaged (and timed) media relations has never been more critical. Responsive media relations can be a powerhouse tactic for businesses to align themselves with some of the UK’s highest profile debates and topical issues, not to mention to help reduce any destructive headlines.

I’ve often had to reassure my clients that their voice does matter. Some falling into the trap of believing that ‘they are too small to mix in with the big boys’, particularly when it comes to column inches in national titles. This couldn’t be further from the truth. However, the key lies in what you have to say, how you say it, and when. Rest assured; journalists want to hear from businesses of all sizes. When I was working with a small accountancy firm in 2010, a well-known personal finance writer for the Daily Mail explicitly told me that the publication didn’t always want the opinions from the so called ‘big five’ practices. They wanted to dive deeper and speak to smaller practices. Opinions matter, regardless of where you are or how big you are.

Businesses operate in an environment where adaptability is key. I’m not saying the ability to respond swiftly to the demands of the media landscape can make the difference between success and obscurity. But, as my late mentor told me on an almost daily basis, ‘name me one business you’ve never heard of’.

Case study

A case in point is our work with Freespace, a workplace technology company that monitors office occupancy. We were working with the company throughout the pandemic meaning there was a compelling narrative to be told when it came to office occupancy. Prior to the pandemic it’s fair to say it had a modest media profile. To that end, we would look to build a strong narrative in national and business media positioning Freespace as an expert in workplace data.

Throughout 2021, Magenta initiated and managed data-sharing relationships with three tier one business media targets – Bloomberg, Financial Times, and The Economist. We would provide bespoke and tailored data, allowing each publication to create data visualisations that looked and felt proprietary. This added value to their reporting, positioning Freespace as a trusted provider of key office occupancy data as and when stories broke.

We also began building relationships with other tier one titles to discuss international data to help tell the story of office occupancy in the UK and abroad. This reputation building exercise proved fruitful, with a series of calls held with a reporter to discuss Freespace’s data. Similarly, several briefings were set-up with Reuters and The Times to discuss UK and international office occupancy trends and the impact on commercial real estate.

News-desk pressure

Journalists are under immense pressure. Their time is precious, particularly those working on national news desks. Over the past three years, the current affairs landscape has been dominated by major, unprecedented events. From Brexit to a global pandemic, political unrest to wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, soaring energy costs and, of course, the loss of arguably our greatest monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. During these periods, the last thing they want is a press release announcing the new appointment of a CEO, for example. It will get lost and forgotten, and your efforts will go to waste.

Comments must stand out. Data, statistics, or case studies are useful additions. Each bring a story to life in their own way. Journalists like material that is quantifiable. For example, a recent story suggested that there’s enough surplus corporate real estate in London to fill 66 Gherkin buildings. This building is instantly familiar with the reporter and the reader. It ticks all the boxes and resulted in high-profile national headlines. Data, along with access to high-resolution imagery, can sometimes make or break a story.

It also depends on the circumstances and what you’re saying. If it is a direct response to the current news agenda, then that demonstrates that you are alive to current affairs and you have got your finger on the pulse. That’s so long as the comments are sent the same day the story breaks. This is also a very useful tactic for quick, hard-hitting media exposure aligning brands with high-profile debates. However, there is a line that mustn’t be crossed when it comes to ambulance chasing. For instance, you don’t want to be “looking for angles” when a tragedy or disaster occurs. Unless you’re directly involved, then don’t bother. It’s insensitive and bad practice. Journalists will remember your name and brand too.

Instant Gratification

In an era dominated by social media and real-time updates, the traditional approach to media relations is no longer sufficient. Consumers demand instant gratification and transparency, and businesses must rise to the occasion. Responsive media relations empower companies to navigate the unpredictable currents of public perception by enabling them to address issues promptly, capitalise on opportunities, and engage with their audience in real-time.

Moreover, the effectiveness of responsive media relations extends beyond crisis management. It serves as a proactive tool for building and strengthening brand reputation. By staying attuned to the pulse of the media landscape, businesses can strategically position themselves in the public eye, ensuring their messages are not only heard but resonate with their target audience. This proactive engagement fosters trust and loyalty, turning the audience into brand advocates.

Prioritising responsive media relations involves a strategic blend of monitoring, analysis, and timely action. Companies must invest in robust media monitoring tools, stay abreast of industry trends, and have a team that is not only adept at media relations but also capable of leveraging positive opportunities as they arise. The proactive nature of this approach allows businesses to be ahead of the curve, anticipating challenges and seizing the moment when it matters the most.

Media Relations Lead at Magenta Associates | + posts

Craig Peters is Magenta’s media relations lead and has 17 years’ experience in the communications industry. In 2022, he led two award-winning campaigns. One winning the ‘Best Use of PR’ at the Property Marketing Awards and one winning the ‘Best Use of Media Relations’ at the CIPR Pride Awards. Craig has secured three national front pages for clients in recent years in the Financial Times and twice in The Times.

Craig works across a broad range of accounts from workplace consultants, architecture & design practices, working technology companies, to the harder side of facilities management such as cleaning and security.

He is also a former winner of the CIPR Young Communicator of the Year Award and the CIPR Corporate & Business Campaign of the Year Award.