Step up your PR game in 2022
New Year, New Me right? Well, whether you’re forcing yourself into new habits or putting your hands up to the thought of changing yourself every new year, there’s one thing we can all agree on - and that’s that 2022 will undoubtedly be a wild ride for every PR out there. Check out some of our top tips for PR below.
We spoke to Anna Brech, previously digital editor at Stylist, to get her take on PR in 2022.
How has your relationship with PRs changed during the Pandemic?
I think the tenor of the conversation has changed slightly. The PRs I speak to have always been great but the Pandemic has meant we’ve slowed down a bit. We’ve given more leeway and paid attention to the personal cues more on either side.
Generally, we’ve taken more time to (genuinely) check how people are and vice versa. There’s definitely less chasing journalists as PRs know there has been a lot of change due to the Pandemic and not all journalists are in the same position.
Essentially, the past couple of years has reminded both journalists and PRs that everyone has their personal battles to deal with on the sidelines of their day jobs.
The result of these changes in the relationship between journalists and PRs? The story ideas are also becoming more interesting and relevant, perhaps because of the febrile news climate
What could PRs do better in 2022 to get your attention?
- Offer really great, human-led stories of the kind that a journalist would struggle to find on their own. Journalists definitely have less time and resources these days so PRs can fill that gap with stories that truly stand out. A good measure of that is, “would you click on the email title you’ve created, if it were a headline?”.
- Pitches need to be succinct, but at the same time filled with substance. There are no shortcuts to this, it’s just about thorough research and attention to detail. Journalists have to believe that what is in the pitch will make an original and strong story. It’s also a good idea to steer clear of occasion-hooked stories (e.g. International Women’s Day) as the links can be quite tenuous and these events tend to be saturated with stories as is. It’s almost like a cheap win in journo terms. The exception to this would be pitching products for round-ups e.g. for Easter etc.
- Original surveys are also good but the trick to this is getting great questions to begin with. Before you commission the study, reverse engineer to work out what the ideal headline will be from the answers you’ll get. Then you can drum up questions that will get much juicier, more on-point answers. That’s more effective than the more common but scattergun approach of asking a whole load of general questions and seeing what stories come out of it.
What are your predictions for media and journalism in 2022?
I think the conversation around diversity and racial justice will continue to be a major theme for 2022, and journalists will be looking for original angles to extend focus in new directions on this far-reaching, evolving topic. The same goes for stories around mental health, new working habits (sparked by the pandemic but also moving beyond) and sustainability (especially from the perspective of local/ global communities).
Stories around emerging tech such as AI and AR will continue to command attention, too.
As the internet becomes ever more crowded and saturated, we’ll also see an emphasis on longer-form, meaningful stories that spotlight hidden or lesser-known voices. This kind of content will be the equivalent of a good podcast: well-researched, in-depth and laying the groundwork for a stronger connection between brand and reader.
Strong creatives will also have a role to play here: think expandable animations, interactive graphics, podcasts and other rich media formats to bring individual narratives to life and extend their shelf life.
What was your favourite story from 2021?
This incredible piece delved into the stories of a small group of Jewish child refugees who gained sanctuary in Britain just before the outbreak of WW2. It’s really beautifully investigated, pulling together complex and poignant first-person stories from the refugees themselves and also their surviving families. The fact that the journalist also has a personal connection to the story makes it even more powerful.
It’s an unforgettable and hugely moving account that was also made into a podcast (see note above on ways to expand long-form content). Amid all the quick, easy-win stories online, this kind of storytelling stands out - combining rich, old-school reportage with new tech to augment the key facts.
Top tip for new PRs in 2022
- Less is more: better to contact someone fewer times but make each pitch really strong so that journos come to know that they can rely on you as a great source. A good selection of photos are always great even at first pitch stage, but don’t use attachments, just links (as these are far easier to access and avoid cluttering someone’s inbox).
- The same goes for not using a word doc as a press release: it’s a minor detail but a release is so much better and more convenient as copy within the email itself. If you make a mistake in a release and it’s minor (e.g. a typo) don’t send out a correction: it only draws attention to it.
- Chase someone once a few days after you’ve made the initial pitch but not more than that - no answer is a no, but most journos will be too busy to say that (would be the nice and right thing to do but it’s just not realistic).
- Don’t run embargoes on stories unless it is really huge e.g. Apple releasing a new watch, otherwise it runs the risk of appearing self-important and is also annoying to work around. Online journos I know tend to work very much in the moment, so have all the info you need to hand at once to pitch, and try to avoid saying “I have a story but it’s not available right now - would you be interested?”. It is much better to give all relevant information at once, so the journalist can make a judgement call.