The media and face masks….

There has been a huge media frenzy around Freedom Day, which isn’t surprising, because this is actually Freedom Day mark 2 on July 19 – mark 1 being June 21st.

Hopefully, the government won’t backtrack again, but we all wait with baited breath.

People have very strong opinions about whether letting go of restrictions is a good thing or not.

It could end up as a blame fest – people who want to wear masks berating those who don’t, and those who don’t wear them calling the others ‘scaredy-cats’ or ‘toadies’ for doing as they are told.  Name-calling isn’t going to help any of us. The pandemic and the response to it has been divisive from the beginning – not helped by a huge dose of hypocrisy from the behaviour of some politicians who are ‘our leaders’.

This week I have had two of my clients in the Telegraph sharing their opinion about wearing masks.  I also have some others pitched for This Morning.

Obviously, the newspaper and TV programme want people with differing views. If everyone had the same view, there would be no discussion and that would make for a very boring debate on the tv sofa.

So, how do I work with clients with such very differing opinions? How do I navigate a divisive issue?

Getting the balance right:

My clients reflect society at large.  Like my family, friends and business colleagues and clients we all have our own beliefs and opinions, but that doesn’t stop me working with them – we can all stay friends.

This can be a tightrope walk however I have a clear strategy around this in that I won’t work with those who I don’t believe are coming from a place of good intent. Most people with strong opinions come from a place of good intent, and most will on occasion be willing to listen, learn and occasionally change their opinions because of that. For me that’s called being an intelligent adult.

I have to be sure my clients’ opinions are authentically held, if they are just saying what they think people want to hear, or to get their name ‘out there’, ultimately, they will be caught out.

This is quite an apt point, as Wednesday this week is Tell the Truth Day.

While the word ‘spin’ is often attributed to PR, this doesn’t mean, for me, telling lies. Lies almost always get found out.

Obviously, I have my own views and will share it if asked but I’m not paid by clients to give them my personal view. I’m supporting them to get their views and their stories told in an authentic manner.

Also, I don’t put pressure on clients to share their views. It’s not something I expect of clients who work with me. If they are working with me, I know they want to find ways to become more visible, but not everyone wants to share their personal view.

Some may want to, others may not and that’s okay as opinions can be divisive and political in nature.

What do clients gain by sharing their views and/ or expertise?

Appearing on TV, radio, or in printed media often helps to raise client’s confidence about themselves and it’s great PR for the brand with which they are associated.

The endorsement of being asked by a second party (in this case the media), gives you a great boost. Being recognised as an expert in your field is the pinnacle point of your marketing.

However you need to learn to be animated, know how to present yourself well, talk with passion and knowledge and inject personality. If you are monosyllabic, shy, unable to give good eye contact, the chances are no-one will be interested. The media often have several people they are considering for an opportunity – they will choose the lively, interesting presenters!

By accepting the opportunity, you get into the consciousness of the national journalist you are working with. Even if you are not called upon on a particular occasion, if you have answered the call, quickly and helpfully, you will be on their radar for the next time. You want to be as helpful as you can be so that journalist feels confident in COMING BACK.

You can never shout too loudly or too often about appearing on TV or in magazines. These sorts of opportunities don’t come up too often, so when they do, grab them with both hands. Make the most of the opportunities.

Remember, the bigger your audience is, the more people WILL want to buy your stuff, or you! It’s inevitable (unless you keep working for free, and you don’t have a good sales process).

Once you have had the publicity, write blogs on your website, sharing about the experience. Share pictures, share on your social media and thank the team concerned for including you as a voice or contributor.