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Playing the long game: 3 reasons why short sprints don’t work in PR

I came into PR with an accumulated 15 years of experience working as a finance journalist. And here is a harsh truth: journalists are overwhelmed with PR requests. Even if your pitch is finely tuned and your client's representation is impeccable, it often takes several months before prominent media outlets take notice and publish your efforts.

In my experience, the path to an effective PR campaign typically spans a minimum of six months for planning and realisation. Whether a company opts for the services of a PR agency or brings an in-house professional on board, meticulous advance planning proves to be the linchpin of a successful PR campaign. Here are three compelling reasons why this extended timeline is so crucial.

Leveraging diverse formats takes time

First and foremost, crafting and communicating the client’s core messages and references to the target audience implies skillful application of diverse formats and, notably, considerable time. A well-rounded campaign strategy includes media placements, interviews, and formats like conference speakerships and awards participation, among other tactics. Attempting to cram all of these activities into a single month can be arduous.

As an example, many industry awards typically have application deadlines, some of which are set six months in advance. Moreover, they often involve a set of criteria that need to be met, demanding a client's attention well in advance. In a short sprint campaign, succeeding in these formats becomes extremely challenging.

Journalists won’t operate on your schedule

Secondly, it’s vital to accept the fact that journalists work independently of our timelines. The top journalists receive hundreds of requests daily, and they won't instantly pick up your story. From my experience, interviews and lengthy formats with major financial publications often unfold over several months.

For instance, I have cases when my clients may have a series of calls and emails with journalists in May, July, and September to secure one full-length feature in Forbes months after the first interaction. Similarly, with the Financial Times, I had a case where a client was interviewed in August, but the article was planned to be published at the end of the year. Taking that into account prevents clients from having unrealistic expectations about your PR work.

Short sprints—falling short of strategic objectives

Lastly, short sprints, while having their place, are less accommodating when it comes to addressing project-specific objectives. If a significant business event or partnership is looming on the horizon, long-term campaign planning offers the depth and breadth required for strategic prioritisation and scheduling of activities to maximise outcomes.

Don’t make me start on the intricacies of event planning for this type of project—it takes ample human resources and excellent time management skills to ensure a successful launch party or meet-up with journalists. Therefore, it's essential not to constrain yourself with limited time when advanced planning can indeed make your efforts more productive.

In conclusion, long-term planning is the bedrock upon which the strategic depth needed to tailor messages effectively for the target audience is built. It ensures that the intricate dance between PR professionals and journalists unfolds smoothly, with enough time for all the pieces to fall into place. This approach fosters a more efficient and successful PR campaign, making the results well worth the time invested.