Why is reactive PR the standard?
All of public relations can be defined as either reactive or proactive. Traditionally, reactive PR is about crisis management, whereas proactive is a more offensive and opportunistic approach to gaining and maintaining publicity.
For many companies, the common practice remains reactive. This is when PR is used for negative perception management, particularly in light of an event that has damaged the reputation of the organisation.
There are countless famous examples of companies becoming engrossed in a scandal, such as the BP oil spill that caused an environmental disaster across the coastline of Louisiana, or the ‘horse meat scandal’, which heavily damaged the reputation of supermarkets and meat suppliers when mislabelled food was found to be being sold across Europe.
It’s when these situations present themselves that reactive PR is vital to limit the damage.
What is a proactive approach to PR?
In recent years, more leading brands have begun using proactive PR strategies to deliver positive messages in support of their wider marketing strategy.
Proactive PR is advantageous – it plays on the front foot, seeking any chance to get the brand seen or heard.
A classic example of this came from Nando’s, which paid tribute to Alex Ferguson – the retiring manager of Manchester United famed for his ability to prolong games so that his team could score a winning goal – by keeping their Manchester stores open five minutes later than usual after his last ever match. This witty and entertaining gesture caught the imagination of football fans everywhere, resulting in great word of mouth publicity and favour for the brand.
How to take a more proactive approach
Changing perspective and becoming proactive in approach requires anticipation of the future. It involves an examination of the surroundings in order to understand the challenges that are ahead and how best to create the promotional tactics required to succeed.
Proactive public relations necessitates that you define your objectives, identity an audience early and establish the most effective ways to reach them.
This includes details such as: the community you intend to hold a dialogue with and the tone of voice in which the brand will speak consistently; the channels by which to communicate; and a number of specific dates on which it’s essential to address your audience.
Anticipations for 2016
To implement effective and proactive public relations in 2016, it’s time to start looking ahead.
As a first step, mark all of the points in the year when it’s essential that you communicate: product launches, new points of purchase and any sales promotions that are planned.
Second, note any relevant dates you can use as an opportunity for participation, including events where it’s possible to discuss topics that are important to your customers.
This will help achieve two things: the consolidation of the brand in the mind of the consumer and the maintenance of an active channel of communication.
This ensures that when important marketing announcements are made, the audience is paying attention.
Sophie Chadwick is a senior account manager at Peppermint Soda