Modern PR event support: A PR’s diary

Modern PR event support: A PR’s diary

Austin Brailey

Austin Brailey

The background

Our client is releasing draft recommendations for reforming the UK’s Public Inquiry process, following an Inquiry into Public Inquiries’.

The day

I wake early and stop myself immediately looking for coverage online. I know two national papers filed stories yesterday afternoon, but there is no guarantee either will have made the cut and now the news is ‘out’, it is highly unlikely a news journalist will attend today’s event. This was our call - if there’s no coverage, we’re in trouble. Over breakfast, I receive a text from a colleague, “Have you seen the Guardian piece?” and I feel a wave of relief come over me.

There is no doubt it’s a good story, but a complicated one – and getting journalists to listen was harder than I’d expected. This was not a ‘quick story’ and required a little more investment to cover properly.

The Guardian’s story however is bang on and testament to the journalist who took the time over several phone calls to really listen and understand what was interesting about a genuinely important issue.

The venue

Arriving at The Royal Society an hour early, my two Firefly team members are not far behind. And behind them are two camera men, who will be filming the event.

While my boss directs the ex-BBC staff in getting exterior shots of the building, my other colleague and I help to reorganise the conference rooms (which are slightly different than expected at recce stage).

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We welcome a journalist who will be covering the day in-depth for a monthly publication and my colleague sets up in the back of the main room, ready to tweet throughout the day.

The Radio

The event is going very well and as we approach lunch time, a BBC radio van arrives to interview a guest on the event, live on The World at One.

Having the radio van outside is a good sign as radio is the biggest culprit in ‘pulling’ interviews at the last minute.

Thinking I will be helping to test the equipment, I go along with the Radio Car driver’s request to close the door and sit inside with the headphones on – he tells me that we are getting ready for my broadcast and I inform him that I’m not the Lord being interviewed. He tells me he thought I “looked a bit young for a Lord” and I scuttle off to find the legitimate interviewee.

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20 mins before we’re due to go live and the radio car is having trouble getting a connection. I’m in a mad dash, talking to producers and trying to find a quiet room with Skype, or at least a land line.

In the back of my mind, I doubt either will be good enough quality and fear the opportunity slipping away as they ‘go to something else’.

My mission isn’t going well but I receive a call that the van is fixed – relief for the second time today. The interview goes well and it’s back to the event.

The Video

Around this time, the cameramen have edited the morning’s footage and uploaded the video to the client’s YouTube channel.  Yet, interviews are still taking place for a longer, more in-depth video, which will take a few days to turn around.

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Twitter

All day, my colleague has been keeping the client’s Twitter followers up to date with the event and tweeting links to media coverage, videos and fresh blog content. Now it is time to feedback some of the Twitter reaction to the delegates in attendance.

A list of questions and comments from Tweeters is handed to the chair, who reads them out to the room. Answers are then fed-back to those who posed them.

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In summary

The event concludes and we’re all happy things ran smoothly. This has been a good example of how successful PR event support works in this day and age. ‘PR events’ are by no means confined to those in physical attendance now; adding complexity and opportunity for the PR team.

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