by | May 1, 2024

The Three P’s for a Perfect Rapid Response

By Helena Carnell, Account Executive, Touchdown PR 

In the ever-changing world of public relations, the ability to respond swiftly and effectively to relevant emerging events is paramount. This is especially true within the world of technology, where cyber attacks, data breaches and shocking research statistics are hitting the headlines on a daily basis. 

To be successful in battling each news wave as it comes, an effective rapid response strategy needs to be in place – where processes are established, proactivity is embedded and pitching is perfected. Find out how to craft a sturdy and reliable strategy that will enable agencies to battle the rough seas of the news cycle below.

Perfecting process

Today’s news cycle is extremely unpredictable. So whilst newsjacking is an excellent way to get clients in front of desired audiences, it requires a stringent process for consistent success. Agencies need to be prepared with a process that ensures the constant evaluation and filtering of real-time news, and the organisation needed for efficient responses. This is only possible if the team has a process in place to consistently monitor for trends, legislation and cybersecurity incidents.

Spotting the story is only the beginning. Whilst on first glance something may seem perfectly suitable, teams must evaluate the story every time to ensure it is the right fit, questioning: Is the topic completely relevant for the client? Are they a potential prospect or customer for the client? Will commenting on this story have a negative impact on the client or the agency? All these questions need to be answered before diving in the deep end with the commentary. And lastly – newsjacking should never be ambulance chasing – not only is this time-wasting, but could also shed a negative light on the client or the agency.

Once that relevant news hook breaks, agencies need to be organised, efficient and prepared to get an insightful comment prepared, shared, and approved before the story has been picked up too widely. Finally, once commentary is prepared, a list of appropriate contacts to hand is essential so that your hook is reaching the right top-tier fish. By having an implemented strategy, clients will slowly become the reliable and trusted expert that high-profile journalists turn to.

Perfecting proactivity

A rapid response process is only as good as the team’s proactivity. After all, rapid response pitching is called rapid for a reason. As breaking news is time sensitive, journalists will make a decision on what source to use within one hour of posting a query, and usually is decided with a first come, first serve mentality.

So, how can an agency optimise their process to ensure maximise efficiency?

1. Stay consistent

To ensure breaking news is spotted as soon as it breaks, the cycle must be monitored at regular intervals – so newsjacking-worthy headlines don’t get lost at sea. Agencies should assign team members to check key terms and publications at certain times in the day.

2. Utilise Google alerts and journalist enquiry service websites

Not only should team members be manually checking the news, but teams can also utilise Google alerts for certain terms, or establish BOOLEAN searches that will ensure that no opportunity slips through the net. Additionally, there are an array of journalist enquiry service websites that flag any requests for contributions in real time – such as Qwoted and Response Source.

3. Engage with journalists on X/ Twitter

X, previously known as Twitter, is a key resource for connecting with journalists and what they are talking about in real-time. Teams should monitor X for #journorequests – some journalists will reach out specifically on this platform for commentary on breaking news. Additionally, not only can you set up post notifications for certain accounts, but you can make lists of any accounts you wish to follow. For example, government agencies, who tend to break their news first on Twitter over anywhere else. 

4. Look to the future, where possible

If and when a news story is going to break is unpredictable. However, there are some newsworthy opportunities that are planned and can be proactively prepared for. For example, upcoming legislation and events are hinted at for months – such as the recent AI Summit and AI Act. Additionally, some well known research studies are done annually, such as CrowdStrike and IBM, meaning commentary can be prepared for in advance.

5. Building client confidence and comment banks

Proactivity needs to be continuous and consistently improved on. As you build a client’s repertoire as an expert source, agencies can also build comment banks with all approved content. Over time, clients will become more confident in what is expected from them, and the speed and insight required to see winning results. The more frequently opportunities are presented, the more insights will be acquired, eventually presenting agencies with all the ingredients needed for that perfect comment – saving countless time in drafting, requiring only a view to approve.

Perfecting pitching

For us PRs, there is almost no better feeling that realising the rapid response pitch you’ve worked on has landed some top-tier coverage for your client – making the perfected process and proactivity worth the work. However, even with an incredibly insightful comment, capturing the attention of a journalist is easier said than done.

Some top tips for perfecting the rapid response pitch are: Do your research, keep it concise, make it personal, pay attention to detail, and add the human touch. And last but not least, take the time to recognise who has already covered the story. Nothing will get you added to a journalist’s ‘block list’ faster than pitching something they have already covered!

At Touchdown PR, we have a global PR team that is consistently monitoring the latest news, so that when opportunities strike, we are able to jump on them with thoughtfulness, efficiency and ease.  As a result of our processes, proactivity, and pitching, we have recently secured client coverage in top-tier trades, Computing, Computer Weekly and Management Today, as well as business and nationals, Forbes and The Sun.

Want to see what work you can do with Touchdown PR to secure your own top-tier coverage? Get in touch – our rapid response strategy is award winning!