The goal of the exercise, as described to our team, is to develop PR professionals who can think critically as a reporter does and then in turn, teach their clients to think in the same way. The piece de resistance is when a client comes to you and says “I have an idea that I think would make a great story.” Having been in private practice as a media strategist for the last several years, hearing those words makes my day. After working more than 18 months with a couple of CEOs, each of them now knows and understands what will play in the media. They come to me with ideas.
Aside from getting clients to think like reporters, increased granular interviewing techniques can help PR professionals obtain more newsworthy and relevant content for media pitches.
So what exactly is the assignment? PR professionals should pick a client or two with whom they will have an opportunity to do a content capture session. In advance of the interview, prepare thought-starter questions based on timely and relevant news hooks. Obviously it is incumbent upon them to be well-versed in the most recent content. Have them conduct content capture sessions and identify during the interview where they were able to go beyond starter questions to advance the story through follow-up questions. For example, if the client says that “M&A activity is to going to explode,” it is an opportunity to dig a little deeper. What do they mean explode? Can they quantify the emerging trend? What period of time? What industries? Why is it going to explode? What is driving this trend and what is the impact?
Some clients may not appreciate the increased scrutiny. To that end, it is important to watch for your clients’ receptivity towards your additional questions (are they defensive? do they need additional clarification to understand the content capture goals?). It will be essential to strike the right tone between drilling down and challenging the client to get a good story and being respectful of their willingness to cooperate.
In a follow-up training session, each professional should share a success story in which they drilled down in content capture sessions with clients to shape a stronger story. Our professional staff is doing this exercise and reporting back in early October. We’ll let you know how it goes.
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