Good PR is about making the headlines, not appearing in them

As a leading security PR specialist, nothing makes our day at éclat like securing a big media opportunity for our clients. Whether it’s a national newspaper, a broadcast spot, or a well-placed article in a key industry trade, we’re all about making our clients as noticeable as possible to their key audience.

Despite the fact that our industry is centred on getting our clients in the news, paradoxically if a PR firm itself is in the press, it’s usually bad. Ignore the old saying about there being no such thing as bad publicity – anyone in the industry will tell you that’s not true, especially for agencies themselves.

Just like any other kind of company, every so often an agency will make headlines due to a scandal of some sort. It doesn’t have to be a major incident however, and a slip up on any scale can soon gather attention, especially if it’s an amusing one. Start looking online for news or examples of PR, and it won’t be long before you run into the word “fail”. Ironically, the more smoothly a PR campaign is operating, the less you’ll hear of the agency behind it outside of industry circles.

Taking the theme outside of PR agencies, a good recent example would be the current White House administration’s press and communication team. Sean Spicer, who took on the role of press secretary at the start of the administration in January, quickly became a popular figure online thanks to his frequently gaffe-laden conferences. Meanwhile, the short-lived tenure of Anthony Scaramucci as communications director made huge waves, partly due to his brash, fast-talking Wall Street style… and the fact he was removed from the position after a record-breaking 10 days.

By contrast, I had absolutely no idea who President Obama’s press secretary was, despite the fact I was either studying or working in the media industry and paying constant attention to the news for the length of his presidency. A trip to Wikipedia has informed me that he had three press secretaries during his time. Robert Gibbs, Jay Carney and Josh Earnest all served in the post and have continued to have influential media and comms careers, but managed to keep themselves out of the spotlight during their time in office.

Press relations definitely work best when the press team is working with journalists to help create the headlines – rather than appearing in them. But just because good PR usually takes place in the background is not to say that PR firms like to remain completely anonymous.

At éclat we pride ourselves on being the leading security PR specialist in the UK, and if a major security story breaks, there are dozens of influential journalists who know that we can connect them with some of the best and brightest for insight into the news. Likewise, our success stories with past and present clients means we have cultivated a strong reputation among tech and security specialists.

But unlike the results we achieve for our clients, we don’t strive to put our own name up in print (or pixels). While we take pride in our work and want to shout our successes from the rooftops, when we secure a great piece of coverage, we’re more than happy for the focus to be on the story and our clients.

Matt is an Account Manager at éclat, working closely with clients in cyber security. After completing an NCTJ-accredited PGdip in journalism at De Montfort University and working as a B2B trade journalist, he has worked in tech PR since 2012. A lifelong caffeine enthusiast, Matt went from amateur to professional tea drinker in January 2015, following the birth of his son. If he ever has free time again, he’d like to use it reading, writing, and playing games. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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