So firstly, how has Digital PR changed? A lot has changed in the last 10 years within the world of digital but also in the real world, there’s been times of uncertainty and definitely times of worry – dare I say the p word (pandemic in case you didn’t realise).
We were so used to seeing big shiny full page takeovers and interactive calculators that took a lot of time, resource and money and then we saw the times of the map and the index (I do still have love for them both) to now where we are seeing lots of AI campaigns. These trends appear as a reflection of how stories are being covered in the press and the reaction to that but things look quite different now. The 24 hour news cycle has always and always will be at the forefront of most digital PR’s but the way things have been recently, you can go to sleep on a quiet news day and wake up to a resigned prime minister, cost of living crisis or even the death of a national figure.
With this, the strategy has to change and some small businesses that are investing in Digital PR can take less risks with their budget. Here comes in reactive PR.
The key to reactive is speed – clients or the business wants results quicker, journalists want key information and interesting stories quicker and ultimately the digital PR’s want to get their work out there quicker.
What is reactive digital PR?
Reactive digital pr is all about response and you guessed it, reacting. It relies on there already being a story, article, trend etc out there that you are able to respond to with a link to the brand you are representing. This involves an always on approach where you are looking out for trending news stories or maybe even awareness days.
It can take many forms but due to the speed of reactives, more often than not this can involve a simple press release or pitch email containing the information you want to provide. Allowing time for graphics, on page copy and upload isn’t a luxury you have with reactive.
It’s important to ask yourself what you are bringing to the story that isn’t already being discussed – naturally this can be quite difficult with a trending news story because a lot of people are weighing in so firstly judging if this is the right opportunity for you is important.
Then ask yourself, can we provide an expert comment? Do we have maybe internal data that would work for this story? Are we an authority to discuss this topic? We see more often that I would like lots of bigger companies joining discussions on topics that they are not necessarily authoritative to discuss. For example, we don’t want to see Coca Cola talking about the rising cost of cheese – it just doesn’t make sense.
Industries that reactive works especially well for is automotive, property, travel and insurance.
How is reactive PR different to traditional PR?
So, how is reactive PR different to traditional?
Firstly, the differences between reactive and traditional are the same as digital.
- Digital PR is able to reach a wider audience – with traditional you are bound by reach of the circulation of that particular news outlet and it is difficult to measure real reach. With digital and the ability to share, comment and syndication there is a higher chance of your work reaching a wider audience
- With traditional, you are not able to gauge that real feedback from people however, with digital you can get a real grasp of opinions and feelings through comment sections etc
- Similarly, getting results of the success of a digital pr campaign is much easier than traditional pr
- The best part of it all, digital PR allows you to be more creative!
And, how is reactive PR different to digital PR?
- It’s all about speed…digital PR campaigns with an extensive data set, full page of graphics takes a lot of time and sometimes weeks, even months. With reactives, you don’t have that time and need to act quickly before the conversation changes or moves on
- Keeping up to date with news and popular stories doesn’t always mean checking the normal news outlets – what’s trending on Twitter? What trend is going viral on TikTok?
- You only have limited time to comment before the next story is the topic of conversation. Tip: create a glossary of key comments/quotes that are signed off and attributed that are ready to use if the opportunity arises.
- Risk assessment – digital PR campaigns are less likely to be about a contentious/contraversial subject
How can you be reactive?
So now we know what it is – how can we be reactive?
- Keep up to date with news and popular culture – set up Google alerts for relevant topics or businesses that you know you could comment on if they became a big conversation
- Learn about successful methodologies – this is key to understanding how to turn around data or an idea very quickly. Being reactive can sometimes mean having something in a matter of hours so knowing exactly how you’re going to tackle it is the best starting point. You can do this by subscribing to lots of Digital Pr newsletters and following Twitter accounts and analysing the methodologies
- Join Digital PR communities – already mentioned this but this is a great way to understand how other people in the industry are discussing certain topics and reacting to different stories
- Manage risk assessment – there is a risk (as with all PR) of responding to a story that could negatively affect your brand. We’ve already discussed authority and making sure that brand link is there but there are also key things to bare in mind such as reacting to sensitive news or newsjacking a story that is inappropriate
- Sometimes it’s obvious where there’s an opportunity for a reactive campaign and other times it takes more creativity.
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To do or not to do
I’m going to run you through some key tips that myself and my team use when being reactive – we use these as a constant checklist in our minds when in that reactive zone. My number one tip – if you have any doubt don’t do it!
Things you should be doing:
- Check if this story has already been commented on – If the news story you are commenting on is gaining a lot of traction – check to see if anyone else has already commented to ensure you aren’t wasting valuable resource/time/money
- Make sure it aligns with the brand – is the right tone of voice? Are we coming at it from the right angle? Keep your target audience in mind!
- Check backlink profiles or previous/similar campaigns to increase chance of coverage
Things not to do or things to consider:
- Be insensitive – just because a story is dominating the news, doesn’t mean it’s an obvious choice to join the conversation
- Newsjack something that doesn’t align with your brand of target audience – this will come across as an obvious campaign just for ‘links’, journalists and most importantly your target audience will sniff this out immediately and it can come across disingenious
- Use old media lists – always create bespoke to avoid losing the personalisation
- Over-react – it is not sensible to react to every news story that is gaining traction, especially if the brand link isn’t there
- Reactive digital PR is great for anyone that has a wealth of expert commentary or internal data
- BUT it’s not for everyone, pick the right opportunities that fit your brands values and ethics
- Results are relative – digital PR link KPI’s and reactives aren’t going to be the same
- Stay on top of the news where your target audience are consuming their news
Ready to leverage Reactive Digital PR? Let’s chat!