Platform: The time is ripe for hitting the headlines - The well versed PR professional should no longer fear being shunned by editors and journalists, says Ian Monk

Never in our consumer driven, media obsessed age have there existed better opportunities for editorialising a brand or a personality.

Never in our consumer driven, media obsessed age have there existed

better opportunities for editorialising a brand or a personality.



From the news, features and opinion pages of bloated national newspapers

to the burgeoning airtime of diverse TV and radio channels, myriad

opportunities arise for savvy PR professionalss to maximise media

opportunities for their clients.



Such has been the expansion of media outlets, individually in size, and

collectively in number, that they can no longer fill their space with

editorial which is universally resistant to the clever product

’puff’.



Nor do they want to. Editors know that in the consumer age there is

genuine interest in products, innovations and personalities. No longer

is the media a mean machine in which every story is required to have a

victim.



Hence consumer affairs correspondents, technology writers and media

specialists have tended to replace foreign correspondents, industrial

editors and local government correspondents.



Many have their own weekly or daily sections or pages. As do

showbusiness editors, diarists and City writers who all have the same

voracious need for personal profiles and snippets which can be created

around a PR agency’s clients.



All of these journalists wisely keep the lines open to those PR officers

whose knowledge of the media’s workings matches their familiarity with

the profile requirements of their clients. The journalist welcomes the

creative from a PR agency who spots an angle or trend which can be used

as a vehicle to secure for the client valuable columns inches.



A classic example while I was at the Sun came from the switched on PR

handling of the new Boddingtons beer ads - featuring a near-naked

British Lions rugby skipper.



Why not, he suggested, do a feature on the growing trend towards naked

male, rather than female, flesh in ads? Using, naturally, the hitherto

unseen Boddington advertisement as the peg.



A smart idea which gave the Sun a sexy spread featuring a ten column use

of the new Boddingtons picture.



The key to delivering such coverage for clients is a PR company which is

plugged into the media’s stream of consciousness and aware of its

sometimes fickle prejudices and preferences.



As the concentric circles of PR and the media increasingly overlap it is

not simply brand PR whose influence on editorial thinking has grown.



Many was the day at the Sun when each of its senior editors was dealing

separately with PROs representing Royalty, Government and a raft of

Ginger haired celebrities.



On the day the Spice Girls paid their ’secret visit’ to the Princes at

Highgrove, the editor received separate briefings about what they said,

wore and ate, from Royal spin doctors and the band’s PR person.



The extraordinary story of Peter Mandelson, king of the spinners,

enlisting the help of a well known London PR professional to wage a

remorseless media campaign to secure his seat in the Blair Cabinet has

already been told. A series of positive features backed by leader

articles in a range of national newspapers inspired by the London PRO

helped ensure Mandelson’s elevation.



So there is an audience for the PRO and his client - corporate, brand,

political or celebrity - at the highest levels of the national

media.



What commissioning editors and journalists need to know is that the PRO

understands their creative requirements in a way a press release rarely

does. That is the creative challenge that impelled me from the highest

levels of great national newspapers to the world of PR.



Ian Monk, is media director of MacLaurin Communications and Powerhouse

and former associate editor of the Sun.



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