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by Lauren Cooper

June 13th, 2023

Reactive PR: What it is & how to use it

With PR (public relations) being an ever-changing industry, it’s important to be adaptable and stay up to date with the latest trends, whilst remaining in control of your brand's reputation. Understanding the difference between reactive PR and proactive PR is integral to creating a strategy that ensures your brand remains in touch with its values and vision, alongside what is going on in your industry and the wider world.

What is reactive PR?

In its definition, reactive PR involves “monitoring the news cycle, identifying opportunities, and responding quickly with a thoughtful, strategic approach”.

As opposed to proactive PR which involves a longer-term, planned and proactive approach to identifying opportunities for media coverage, through cultivating a strategic PR plan which may include a mixture of press releases, speaking opportunities, interviews etc.

Reactive PR & Newsjacking

Reactive PR can often be referred to as ‘newsjacking’. A term coined by marketing strategist, David Meerman Scott, newsjacking is the process of adding your thoughts and opinions into breaking news stories. This can be done in a number of ways, from comment pieces to sharing your business’s statistics in relation to newsworthy events.

An example of reactive PR is at the start of the pandemic, Uber encouraged riders to stay at home in their ‘Thank you for staying at home’ campaign, using a situation which greatly affected their business for a socially-driven campaign.

It doesn’t just have to be world-breaking news which can help brands to amplify press coverage, celebrity culture and TikTok trends are now also at the centre of many widespread news stories.

Most recently, the ‘#Scandoval’ drama from American reality TV show, Vanderpump Rules, which dominated headlines and social media platforms around the world, has been used by multiple American brands in their PR campaigns, including Duracel and UberEats, who showcased their support for the cast member at the centre of the scandal, Ariana Madix, by working with her in a number of advertisements.

Reactive PR & SEO

Due to its quick nature, reactive PR is primarily a form of digital PR. Therefore it can be a great way to improve your SEO and drive more high-authority backlinks to your website.

SEO itself can also be used within reactive PR. For example, using topics that are trending online and generating a high volume of searches can be a great hook for stories about your business’s products or services.

The benefits of reactive PR

Reactive PR can place your brand at the heart of ongoing conversations, helping to increase your exposure to wider audiences and cultivate strong brand awareness with the general public. For businesses within the B2B sector, reactive PR can often help to position you and your business as industry experts, and provide ongoing opportunities for comments and interviews.

By gaining online coverage, reactive public relations is a great way of link building, drawing links from high authority websites and improving your SEO rankings.

Key things to consider with reactive PR

Successful reactive PR first needs a strong reputation behind the brand - authority is everything! Often, journalists want to hear from those who are key players in their industry or who have built a reputation on being an expert on the topic at hand, therefore it is important to ensure that your overarching PR strategy takes this into account.

More often than not, reactive PR requires speed. Opportunities often appear at a day or two’s notice therefore it is important to be on the ball and keeping an active eye out for media opportunities, whilst also ensuring that every opportunity is carefully vetted to ensure it will not result in negative publicity.

Reactive PR may not also be for everyone, there’s certainly more sectors than others that will regularly appear in the newspapers, therefore it is important to set your expectations and know that coverage is not guaranteed.

Any successful PR strategy involves a combination of online and offline, and reactive and proactive public relations, all of which aligns with your business’s vision and values, and reaches your target audience.

If you would like to find out more about how we can create a PR strategy that generates results for your business, please get in touch!

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