The success of a PR campaign and securing national headlines is directly associated to the strength of client relationships.
It’s not that you can’t do the job if you don’t get on with your client, it’s just that it makes life difficult. With a specialism like PR, you are working with a planned schedule of activity, as well as the daily news agenda.
This is when relationships really do come into their own.
Why relationships matter
Take the Coalfields Regeneration Trust as an example. We had planned to launch the State of the Coalfields 2019 report and had a schedule of activity to support this announcement. It was one of the biggest stories of the year and an import piece of work.
We had been working on the timings for months. We had the plan and the spokespeople available, we now had to liaise with all regional and national media. The story was embargoed for Wednesday 16 October, when the report would be officially launched in Westminster.
Sending this story out was no small task. Hours of work is required when you are focusing on a project like this and there is no guarantee of coverage. It’s the start of the process that you hope will lead to results.
Making things happen
On the day of the ‘sell in’ journalists asked for the story to be sent through, yet there was still no firm commitment to coverage. Frustrating but not unusual. The next day things changed. The phones didn’t stop ringing from the moment we sat down.
Broadcast wanted to arrange interviews and it was up to us to make it happen.
The client was ready to take calls throughout the day and these were planned, scheduled and arranged. It was then that we were asked for a spokesperson to be in London on Wednesday morning. The idea was that we would secure national headlines with two TV channels if the client was available.
Excellent news. All we needed to do was get the client to rearrange all of their plans to travel to London overnight to arrive first thing for an interview at 6.35am and then 10am at the studios.
This is where relationships are critical.
The client could have said no. They could have said they wanted to spend the evening with their family. They could have said it was too much money to travel to London at such short notice. It may have been that they simply couldn’t be bothered with the logistics.
The response from our client, who we have worked with for more than six years, was that this was important. It was an opportunity. It was too good to miss.
Not only did the client get on the train late at night to travel to the capital, they also did so with a smile. They were excited by the coverage we could secure as a result of this piece. At no point did they complain, suggest it was too much trouble or ask why this couldn’t be done in a different way.
Then came further calls asking for interviews down the line (on the phone) at 6.25am and 6.30am. It was back to the team at the office to ask if anyone would be willing to take the calls despite the early hour.
Again, it meant rearranging meetings and schedules, but they pulled out all of the stops to make it happen.
From the minute we put the news on this morning the reports started to come in. The client’s story featured on both local TV channels (Look North and Calendar), was the lead feature on BBC Radio Sheffield and was aired on BBC Radio Five Live throughout the day.
We continued to secure national headlines as the story featured on Victoria Derbyshire and Jeremy Vine, which then led it to be syndicated across radio stations throughout the country. Again, back to the client to ask them to detour to broadcast house.
We are continuing to work on this story (literally as I type) with three clients from the office making their respective way to different interviews in varying media houses in London.
I cannot be more thankful of the relationship that we have developed over the years. Without it, we simply wouldn’t be in the position we are now; celebrating success, sharing coverage and looking forward to the next story we have to share.
For interest, here is just one link to the story we shared: https://www.itv.com/news/tyne-tees/2019-10-16/former-coalfields-scarred-by-the-legacy-of-the-past/