How to be B2B PR creative without a right sided brain
Don't feel like the next Don Draper? Not a problem. Remember creativity is, "10% inspiration and 90% perspiration..."
Use all the resources at your disposal to create an angle for your client. Government agencies like the Office for National Statistics have publication calendars with dates of every release that might be of use. Whether you’re interested in retail sales, construction industry output or travel trends, this is a resource that if closely monitored will ultimately result in ideas for your clients. Remember, while journos are obviously fountains of knowledge they are only human (well, most of them) and will appreciate their attention being drawn to facts and figures they may have missed. And if you can secure something tasty and exclusive using a Freedom of Information (FoI) request then even better – the trick with FoI requests is knowing what to ask for, but if you’re up to date with industry issues (see below) then it’ll soon become apparent.
Stay up to date
In order to understand how your clients’ activities relate to the sector they’re in and what the trade/national press is interested in you need a comprehensive understanding of what’s going on. Twitter lists containing client stakeholders are a must (don’t just limit these lists to relevant journos – include industry bodies, bloggers, associations, trade unions etc.). Google Alerts and news aggregators are a must and it’s obviously prudent to follow the blogs of the relevant major players – whether these are search engine giants like Yahoo! (see my recent post on Marissa Mayer’s loose purse strings) or specialist divisions of a top analyst house like Gartner, you can be sure that the media will sure as heck be monitoring them so you should be too.
Back an issue
A great way to come up with good newsworthy ideas is to research an issue close to your client’s heart and make them the thought leader on it. I had a client that specialised in the tuition of disadvantaged children so when the coalition government introduced the pupil premium allowance (a fund for pupils receiving free school meals designed to increase academic attainment) it seemed like a natural issue for my client to comment on. By using all the resources available to us we quickly became experts on the issue which allowed us to advance the pupil premium discussion on behalf of the client.
Dig, dig, dig
Even if you’ve done all of the above, to come up with good ideas you need as much client visibility as possible. You will naturally be designated a point of contact (PoC) person at the start of a PR relationship but with careful management and understanding you can help that PoC understand that the more contact they arrange for you to have with individual specialists within their organisation, the more likely it is you’ll hit upon something the media will genuinely be interested in. Then, with careful planning and senior management buy-in, you can develop that idea into positive media coverage. This can be tricky and you need to be careful you don’t stand on anyone’s toes, but in the long term you’ll need this unrestricted access to keep on coming up with new ideas.
Understand what you're looking for
This one’s a bit harder to judge, but the best ideas are only the ones that’ll get your clients the coverage they covet. And in order to get the coverage, whatever story you’re pushing has to be newsworthy, which means you have to know what’s newsworthy and that’s something that really has to be taught. I was lucky and got to work closely with several journalists early on in my career, but that doesn’t mean I get the angle right every time. My advice would be to look for the money and go from there – what’s been spent, what’s been saved, what’s been wasted is usually the most interesting part of any story, but I would strongly advise that you pay a national journalist (freelancers are good for this) to come to your B2B PR agency and explain what’s interesting and what’s not. It’ll be money well spent in the long term - spotting a story from 50 yards is a skill your clients expect from you.