There Went Your Big PR Announcement – Now What?

May 4th, 2011

Wait… you’re reading this blog today?!  And therein lies an important PR lesson.  When something so monumental and historic suddenly happens, you can bet it will supplant every other major story in the news.

In this case, Osama’s killing quickly silenced numerous media storylines.  Goodbye (for the moment, anyway) Syria, Libya, tsunamis and nuclear power plants, tornados, Sony data leaks, celebrity crime waves, sports playoffs, and so much more.

Strategic public relations is all about planning, planning, planning, and then pulling the trigger.  In other words, you want to line up talking points, fact sheets, media training, media targets, and other elements before launching your PR campaign.  That way you maximize the likelihood of publicity and positive press.  Now, if you’re smart and plan this way, usually a target date is selected to start the publicity blitz.  Think grand opening, product launch, major announcement – these are not accidental events.  They are major milestones that happen only once, so they need to be squeezed for every possible PR opportunity.

But what happens when something like Obama vs. Osama suddenly happens?  Say you’re a CEO who’s spent months planning a new product launch, put millions of dollars into the next-big-thing, only to have a major event out of your control take place.  Gone is all the media attention you worked so hard for and deserve…. or maybe not.  Three things to consider:

First, you did plan for these contingencies… right?  Every major PR blitz must be viewed as a chess game, and that includes a big happening that can steal your prime position.  You must anticipate political events, stock market crashes, a competitor beating you to the punch, and more.

Second, if you don’t have a Plan B in place, you might get away with delaying your announcement.  Still, this is rarely ideal, as PR campaigns often tease media about the big announcement ahead of time, and you don’t want to leave interested audiences hanging without a strong explanation (FYI – such non-eyebrow rolling explanations rarely exist).

Third – and most importantly – if a delay is out of the question, at least know that the major event will lose media attention over time.  That means your prior planning needs to consider how to get multiple bites at the media apple.  Simple one-offs never make a good PR strategy; you have to think about the long-term and how to leverage a single announcement into an enticing media opportunity for weeks and months to come.

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