Our Bellmont Partners team will be the first to say that creating a roadmap with clear strategy and thoughtful development is a crucial part of having a successful communications plan. And we also will affirm the need for flexibility to adapt and take advantage of unique, unforeseen opportunities. Whether that means jumping to respond to a journalist’s query on short deadline or creating a proactive pitch to take advantage of a trend or news event, having a nimble team can be the difference between seeing your company in the spotlight – or reading about your competitor instead.
So, how can communications teams set themselves up to find the right balance of planning and agility? Here, we share three building blocks will get the team off to a good start.
- Preparation – As ironic as it may seem, the teams that are best at being spontaneous are those that are the most prepared. A key message document is an excellent place to begin, and a priority to ensure there is approved messaging ready to go on a moment’s notice. In addition, identifying who your spokespeople are for a variety of topics, and making sure that they are media trained, will allow for quick coordination of interview requests. Building trust is also important for preparation – both within the internal team and with any external partners. Where there’s a high level of trust, all parties will feel more comfortable moving swiftly to take advantage of an opportunity instead of watching it go by because they’re unsure or don’t have the counsel to help vet and confirm the strategy to go for it.
- Daily Practices – Certain habits can either help or hinder a team’s ability to bob and weave. When people get bogged down in emails or are scheduled in back-to-back meetings all day, there’s not room for listening and creativity. Carving out time to carefully look through query services such as HARO or ProfNet, read the news and stay up-to-date with your connections and influential folks on LinkedIn is an investment in your communications efforts. At Bellmont Partners, our client teams do this in a variety of ways based on what is best for each client and our colleagues who work on the account. For some, it means there’s one dedicated person who looks at queries each day, and for others, it’s a shared responsibility that rotates. We all are encouraged to stay current on industry news and trends that are applicable to our clients, and we’re allocated time to do just that. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach – find what works for your team, and run with it.
- Prioritization – It would be easy to get lost in the vast wilderness chasing down potential opportunities, so it’s key to evaluate each through a thoughtful lens. For us, it boils down to what is the value, and what is the cost, and knowing that sometimes the best decision is to pass on a possible quick-turn opportunity to focus on the strategic plan. Right off the bat, we consider basic questions. What outlet is the opportunity for? How large is the potential audience? How soon is the deadline? Then, we take a look at the bigger picture. What else is going on with our client at this time? Are their spokespeople in board meetings for the next few days, or would there be availability for any needed interviews? Does the client have a unique perspective to add to the conversation, are they truly an expert in this area, or would we be trying to wedge a square peg into a round hole? If there’s a slim chance that the journalist would be interested, it’s probably better to spend the energy elsewhere.
Taking these steps to build a strong, strategic foundation can open up a world of possibilities. With thoughtful preparation, daily practices and prioritization, your team can communicate at the next level ‑connecting with new people, sharing your story and getting the coverage you’ve dreamed of.