17 Jan, 2011
Comment PR, Newsnight and the power of not talking about yourself
I was interviewed on BBC’s flagship current affairs show Newsnight at the end of last year. It was not only a fascinating experience in its own right, but proves the power of ‘Comment PR’.
The principle of this approach to Comment PR is very simple, but it also requires discipline, stamina and self-assuredness. Most PR activity by small businesses is concerned with telling a story about themselves, yet this approach reverses that objective: in this style of PR the idea is to make interesting comments to the media about relevant topics in the news.
I offer short comments and longer thought-pieces on any topic which relates to brand strategy, because that’s my speciality: so in the last year I have commented on the fall of Tiger Woods, Toyota recalls, the launch of the Apple iPad, the coalition Government, the Lotus racing team, Cheryl Cole, Scottish Heritage and numerous other topics from sport, business, politics and world affairs. Sometimes those comments don’t get picked up, but often they do and they can result in surprising and valuable exposure opportunities. I have been interviewed on a couple of dozen regional radio stations, quoted in countless newspapers and blogs, and more significantly have been a guest on ITV, Sky News, Bloomberg TV, CNN, BBC News Channel, Radio 4 Today programme, BBC 5 Live, Radio 2 Drivetime with Simon Mayo, and most recently BBC 2 Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman.
The prime discipline is the same for all these opportunities: you must never, ever, try to plug your own business or activity.
You are there to comment from an expert standpoint.
Of course you do agree with a producer or editor in advance on your caption or description. I am usually billed as a ‘brand expert’ or ‘founder of advisory firm Brand Strategy Guru’, or “Author of Build A Brand In 30 Days”.
The second imperative is that you must take a position, you must have something to say, and to be able to argue your case: because you really don’t want Jeremy Paxman deconstructing your point of view on live TV to 1.2 million viewers.
Persistence over the long-haul is everything with this approach to PR. There are no quick wins: you have to win trust through giving value repeatedly (and don’t expect to be paid anything more than travel expenses).
Simon Middleton is an EBA Millionaire Mentor.