A Journalist Knows a Good Communications Plan When They See One – Here Are the Signs that You Don’t Have One

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By: Jina You

In my previous life as a TV news reporter, I interviewed thousands of people in all walks of life, including many corporations and businesses. I was always struck by the discrepancy between a company that seemed to be “on the ball” with its communications plan, and one that presented itself as disorganized and bureaucratic.

A company with the right communications strategy should have the right people in place to quickly and confidently respond to media requests. I’ve called businesses for either background information or an interview, and in some cases, waited many hours for a call back while the staff seemingly struggled with the request or couldn’t be bothered.

Every call from the media is a chance to connect with customers or stakeholders on some level and brand your business, whether it’s being asked to lend an industry perspective, speak about company developments or even respond in the face of negative publicity.

Another sign of a business that doesn’t seem to invest in media training or a proper communications plan: a PR executive who accompanies a CEO or spokesperson on an interview and hovers nervously in the background, making journalists think the person being interviewed has to have his/her hand held. All that’s going through the journalist’s mind is ,”Why is this person incapable of speaking on their own? Are they inexperienced in dealing with the media?”, “Do they not know what to say without being prompted?”.

Blanket emails on topics that don’t seem relevant to the media outlet is another annoyance that gets journalists to automatically hit delete when the latest press release arrives. I’ve gotten many a press release that began “Hi Jina!” and then went into a topic irrelevant to my news organization. Someone did take the time to find my email and send the release out – wasted effort that could have been better strategizing on the correct target audience. 

I’m always impressed when a well-crafted press release arrives that has a great news “hook”, written by someone who knows the secret of tailoring the pitch to intended audiences and piquing interest.

Maybe you’re at the stage when you realize your corporate communications strategy has gotten off-course. Many businesses and corporations get so busy chasing the next opportunity, they lose focus on their communications plan.

It’s crucial to find expertise on orchestrating and executing a communications plan that clearly outlines objectives, target audiences, tactical activities and ideally media training for senior executives.

Here’s a take-away point for you: take time to plan and regularly review where your company is going with its communications strategy.  It’s always easier than playing catch-up later.

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