“When should we pause PR?”
“Do you think we should turn off our PR for a while?”
“Should we try to fly under the radar for now?”
I’ve been asked these questions by marketing leads many times. It seems to be a common thought that certain situations warrant “turning off” public relations efforts, but I’m here to tell you: there’s never a time when you should pause your PR strategy. Should your PR strategy change or pivot? Sure. But, it should never just stop.
Marketing teams give lots of reasons when talking about taking a break from PR. Here are three of the most common — and how you can actually use these situations to benefit a PR strategy.
#1 – There’s something big happening in your space
Sometimes you’re not always the biggest dog in the fight. If there’s something huge happening in your space, it can feel like your competitors are overshadowing you and no one’s paying attention to your company. For example, let’s pretend that Apple, Amazon and Google have been approved for a merger, which is going to dominate the news cycle (and change life as we know it). You might as well just pause all PR for the foreseeable future, right? Wrong.
You can utilize merger and acquisition news as an opportunity to talk about the industry as a whole. You can use this news to talk about what that merger means for their customers, and how the investment is validating the need for products in your space. No matter how big the news, there’s always an opportunity for you to react and insert yourself in the story. These tactics, sometimes known as newsjacking, help you stay in the news cycle, even during a competitor’s big moment.
#2 – You’re preparing new messaging
Maybe you didn’t meet your revenue goals or you just had a C-level executive to leave the company. These are times you might feel the urge to try to fly under the radar so your dirty laundry isn’t aired. Or, maybe you’re preparing new messaging, focusing on different target customers, or developing a new product — but it’s not ready yet.
Even if your focus is elsewhere, it’s still important to keep the relationships with journalists and the public strong. You don’t want to just disappear for a period of time, then reemerge with new things that no one saw coming. Going silent is never a good thing for a company, and often makes people wonder what you’re hiding.
While you’re planning — or pivoting — you can still utilize existing resources. Continue to build up the profile of thought leaders in your company. You can do this through content, op-eds, interviews about what’s happening in your space and reacting to the news in your space (see example #1 above).
#3 – There’s no news
It’s easy to feel like your company just doesn’t have any news. The truth is, sometimes companies don’t have major announcements, and that’s okay. You don’t always need big news to utilize PR. You can “create” news by talking about events that create momentum for your company. A momentum announcement might include news about new hires, revenue numbers, notable customers, awards won, speaking opportunities at events, plans for the near future or community involvement. There’s always something happening that you can leverage for PR efforts. This is also a good time to continue building relationships with the press and bolstering the profiles of thought leaders in your company.
Basically, “when should I pause PR?” is a trick question. There’s never a time when you should halt PR efforts, and doing so only hinders you, in the moment and in the future.
Pausing PR means losing valuable time building relationships with the press, negatively impacting your share of voice, possibly giving your current (and potential) employees and investors reason to worry and ultimately giving competitors an open invitation to own the conversation. Just don’t do it. Ever.