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
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
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
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.