Results not repetition: when to pivot your PR
Insanity, it is widely quoted, is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. I see this all too often in media relations where insanity prevails over a sound strategy that meets client objectives.
A good PR professional will know which journalists are the best targets, what angles would interest them, what timing is likely to be the most strategic, and so on. However, the amount of unpredictable components in PR make it impossible to guarantee that a media relations campaign will work.
Some media campaigns simply do not work due to a change in the news cycle, a lack of expected traction for the angles you have pitched, or other preoccupations for the journalists you have targeted. There are a whole host of reasons why you may not receive the response you expected.
Even so, a media relations campaign not gaining traction should be the exception, not the rule.
What to expect of a PR pro
A PR professional who is up-to-date with current media coverage and events in the media landscape should have the experience, instinct and relationships to make a campaign as close to sure-fire as possible.
But their expertise should not finish there. A PR professional will quickly know when a media relations campaign is not gaining the reception and results that it should. At that point, they should look to pivot their PR and be able to adjust their approach accordingly.
Sadly, some PR professionals employ the ‘insanity approach’ and continue to animate the dead. Why do we see the zombies of failed media campaigns still staggering around? Sometimes this is plain laziness, a reluctance to put more effort into finding another strategy or trying something else, and sometimes it is ignorance, where the agent can’t even see that the campaign is dead.
Unfortunately, neither situation benefits the client. Not only is this a waste of (billable) time, it is also:
- A waste of journalists’ time as they continue to be pitched something that they are clearly not interested in.
- A waste of the client’s time and money.
- A very bad look for the PR agency and their client.
The insanity approach does more harm than good. When a PR agent keeps doing the same thing over and over while expecting to randomly start getting a positive response from media, they are no longer a PR professional, they are simply peddling a story like a zombie lurching through a landscape hoping something will come of their wandering. But, as you might expect, their intended targets will be running the other way.