It’s summer. And that means barbecue season. You may not think a barbecue has much to do with PR, but you’d be surprised. In fact, here are some thoughts that sprung to mind while I was preparing for a barbecue the other day.
1. Just like it’s vital to pick the right time for your barbecue, timing is critical for your PR campaign too. When you are planning a barbecue, you select a suitable day, with (hopefully) pleasant weather. The same is true for your PR campaigns. Look at calendars to see what is going on in your organisation and in the industry as a whole in order to either coincide or avoid clashing with a particular event. Issue your press release mid-week when targets are most likely to see it not on a Monday morning when it may get lost in an overflowing inbox, or on a Friday when people are rushing home to start their weekend… perhaps even go to a barbecue!
2. Especially in the UK, with our typically unpredictable weather, when it comes to barbecues we’ve learnt to be flexible. If the weekend is a surprise scorcher, jump on it: don’t miss an opportunity. With PR, you may find a current news event is particularly pertinent to your company and offers a chance for you to showcase your expertise – take that opportunity. Similarly, don’t push stubbornly ahead with a PR campaign if it turns out that it is not the best time or if there are other factors that might prevent you from achieving the best possible outcome. Flexibility to revisit and rework plans is essential.
3. For most of us, the meat is what makes a barbecue a barbecue. The same goes for your PR plan: base your campaign around some interesting, “meaty” news. That said, a successful PR team also knows how to season well. No matter whether you buy good quality meat from the local butchers or some basic chicken drumsticks from the supermarket, it needs seasoning: the right amount of salt and pepper, or an interesting rub or marinade can make an ordinary piece of meat outstanding. The way you present your news is imperative: well-thought out messaging, communicated effectively, is vital for a successful PR campaign.
4. To take this analogy a step further, let’s add fire into the equation: there is no point having meat at a barbecue if you don’t cook it. As with the flames in your barbecue, the PR team must constantly monitor progress and make adjustments so as not to let the flames die out. But also be careful not to overcook your meat: be aware of when to stop pushing and let things rest.
5. Another aspect to bear in mind is to know your audience. You must know who is coming to your barbecue to make sure you cater for their tastes. For example, don’t forget the meat-free sausages and Portobello mushrooms for your vegetarian friends. The same goes for PR: make sure you continually update your media and analyst lists and ensure you only approach your targets with appropriate content and offers. We know some of them don’t like doing briefings over lunch for example or others will only speak to local spokespeople. Disappoint them at your peril!
6. Follow up your meat with a nice dessert. When it comes to PR, follow up a briefing to make sure the target has everything they need, such as a high-res photo or the answer to a specific question. After an announcement or a show, follow up with anyone who expressed interest in further information.
These are just a few similarities between barbecues and PR that I thought of while preparing some burgers the other day! A well thought-out, focused approach tends to be best whether you are having friends round for a barbecue or preparing a PR campaign and never underestimate how important it is to know your audience.
Enjoy your summer and your barbecues!