Four chancellors and a funeral: navigating communications and the media

By Thamsia Salam, Account Executive on the Financial Services team

Even those who ‘don’t do politics’ or barely touch a newspaper, won’t have been able to avoid the turmoil that has surrounded the UK during the last six months. The Ukraine and Russia war, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the death of our Queen, the pound hitting its all-time low and four chancellors in as many months.

In just the last fortnight, Kwasi Kwarteng has served as the second shortest chancellor – only being preceded by Ian Macleod who died following a heart attack in 1970 – while Liz Truss has been forced to resign after a record breaking 44 days.

While some are turning off the news, PR and comms professionals are desperately trying to get cut through.

I have been lucky enough to begin my career against the backdrop of all of this, quickly coming to realise that the bulk of my role is to monitor the news cycle and deliver media representation. However, when major events, with dramatic headlines occur so often, this can become quite difficult.

Here are three successful tips to get you cut through in the most demanding of landscapes:

Keep it relevant and fresh

As the news cycle continues to churn, the key to obtaining coverage is always ensuring that the story is relevant to what is going on currently, otherwise getting cut through is difficult.

Ask yourself if it is relevant for a publication’s audience right now. Will the audience relate to the content? Does it contain all the key facts and enough quality information to give the story depth? And if not, adapt, adapt, adapt. Just last month we pivoted a fintech angle to focus on the cost-of-living crisis just as it sparked a media frenzy, securing an interview and top tier coverage as a result.

Hijack the news agenda

In a similar vein, the news agenda might seem overwhelming but it’s also an excellent opportunity to ‘newsjack’ on some of those breaking news stories. In the midst of the chaos the news agenda has presented some fantastic chances for even fintech PRs or compliance PRs to get an opinion, interview or article secured for client. For example, when the mini budget was unfolding last month, we were able to turn a trending topic into a relevant angle by evaluating how certain policy changes could affect our clients and landed valuable coverage due to this.

Going beyond the press list

It might sound simple, but you have to build genuine relationships with journalists. If there is one thing I have gathered in the last 6 months it is that the pitch is just part of the story, making sure your angle gets in front of the right person can be the make-or-break link. The “who” we are pitching to is just as important as the “what” we are pitching.

Nurturing genuine, friendly relationships mean you are more likely to understand the stories that they like to write on. Similarly, taking the time to go out for drinks, lunches or coffees with contacts allows us to build deeper connections so they click on our email, over others, when it comes into their inbox.

When the Queen passed away in September, we were able to gain valuable intel instantly from journalists we know well on what they were publishing and when. So we were able to create stories they wanted to write on, as well as being first to the starting line when the normal news cycle did begin again.

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