Surprising Stories - your agency has more stories to tell than you think
Alex Blyth is the managing partner at PR agency Red Setter. He explains the exciting and innovative ways that agencies can garner media attention.
“We don't have much news - what could we say that the media would be interested in?”
“Do you have a real Red Setter?”
It’s the two questions almost everyone asks when we first talk about how PR might benefit their brand design firm.
They want to raise their reputation. They see how it will help build their brand, sharpen their positioning, attract clients, talent, and investors, and ultimately build value into their firm, but they’re not sure they’ve got enough stories to take to the media.
In most cases they’re surprised. Very often they’re conflating PR with news. They look at the creative media, see all the work launching there, and think they’ve only got four to six launches a year that they’d want to publicise, so what else could they talk about?
Start with your expertise. What value do you bring to your clients? If you’re the world’s leading verbal strategy consultancy then you’ve a wealth of expertise people want to tap into. Frame it in the right way and Harvard Business Review might share it with its readers.
What about your point of view? You might want to make the case for ugly design, highlight the role title sequences play in driving gender equality in sports, or argue a new way of viewing the tagline – whatever it is, the media loves an opinion, and the punchier and more controversial the better.
Next consider your team. People want to read about people, so, if you’ve got an interesting career story or life story to tell, the media will probably want to hear about it.
Then there’s your past work. It might feel like ancient history to you and your studio but to the media and their readers and listeners there are often illuminating success stories to learn from, like the role of brand in helping a business go from start up to sale to Apple in just four years.
Of course, knowing where to look for these stories is only the beginning. Teasing them out, spotting the gems, and then shaping them in the right way is the hard part. Sometimes they bubble up after hours of digging through case studies, dusting off old brand strategy decks, and joining the dots between a number of projects.
Other times it’s the provoked rant – “why is all internal communications so boring?!” - that sparks the idea: why don’t corporate teams deliver the same level of entertainment in the internal communications they create at work as they demand from the television programmes they watch at home?
Often, it’s about linking up the message the agency wants people to hear with stories out in the culture today. Stuck inside for months on end while a devastating plague sweeps across the globe? What better time to spend your time than writing an article on the evolution of the book cover design on Camus’s The Plague?
And sometimes the very best stories come from an off the cuff comment. “There was that time I DJed for Prince”… “Say what?!”
Once you start digging around like this you tend to find the problem isn’t finding anything to say, it’s picking the ones to focus on. So, while we have to disappoint on the dog question (but we do have a pretty cute cavapoo) the number of surprising stories agencies can find when they know where and how to look is often a mind opening, fun and productive exercise.