It can be argued that most issues deserve their moment in the spotlight, alerting the public to problems, their causes and what solution is being demanded. Awareness days, strikes, protests and a journey through the political legislative process are all examples of this. But what happens when a resolution isn’t quickly reached? When a goal isn’t achieved, a law isn’t changed (or maintained) and a demographic is left unhappy, slighted, or worse at threat?
This is the age of 24-hour news, with stories going global in minutes. One of the biggest challenges facing PRs and the clients they represent is how to keep a media campaign not only alive, but progressing towards a stated goal, over months or even years.
Here are four ways in which organisations can ensure that their voice is heard by those that matter, providing a convincing long term argument, rather than short lived coverage.
Never stop planning
Generate new angles: When this becomes difficult, long-term planned activity really comes into its own. By knowing what potential news pegs are on the horizon organisations can not only generate and craft their message accordingly, but also steal a march on others vying for the same media attention.
In practice: if you worked with an organisation campaigning for justice for Brits overseas, then knowing a specific announcement is to be made, or new data is to be released, on a relevant topic, can prove particularly useful in finding a new way of getting the topic into the press.
Refresh your message: consistency is key but it needn’t mean always sticking to the same spokesperson to deliver it. Instead, try switching to new spokespeople in order to keep the message fresh, even if at its core it is the same.
Avoid media and public fatigue:
People become bored of hearing the same things from the same people. It’s particularly effective when the spokesperson(s) comes from outside of the organisation and can offer an alternative, yet still credible take on an issue.
In practice: In our campaign against the Assisted Dying Bill we called upon Lords and Baronesses, leading figures from the fields of medicine, law and psychiatry, as well as front line medical professionals to offer their personal opinion. The result was a varied, yet conclusive rationale as to why the Bill should be defeated.
Try new media
Switch your media focus: Sometimes all a campaign needs is a new perspective. Each outlet has their own agenda and style which best fits their reader demands and often by educating new targets on an issue you can work together to find new areas of focus for the coming months.
In practice: A great example of this is the issue of frozen pensions. After sustained national coverage of the issue in the personal finance pages, we approached leading BME titles, offering new data which revealed their reader demographic felt discriminated by the government’s policy. We partnered with the two leading titles in the industry who took up our cause as their own, running a string of supportive articles and offering to help source relevant case studies.
Go on the attack
Don’t shy away from confrontation: Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to pursue it strongly, be brave and go on the attack. This doesn’t mean you have to be controversial, rude or aggressive, but to reinvigorate an issue you may well need to be willing to publicly question the opposition.
Be aware: that doing this will lead you open to attack, with those in the cross-hairs likely to respond. However, if your research and rationale is watertight this is no cause for concern and can in fact prove highly valuable, generating debate opportunities in the broadcast and sometimes print media.
In practice: During our battle against the government’s proposed cuts to legal aid. It was an issue the opposition fought heavily in the press through a string of stat based arguments. However, at every opportunity, every release of new data, we got hold of the raw information and picked apart the failings – disproving the ‘fat cat lawyer’ angle they were so keen to push and garnering public support in the process.