Rules of engagement – Why PR is more than just column inches

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Should you even be in PR if you don’t go to bed dreaming of wall to wall media coverage in every single one of the UK nationals the following day, regardless of the clients you represent? Taking over those column inches is precisely what we get paid to do, right? The answer is still ‘yes’ – but it’s not quite as resounding as it once was in today’s climate.

In what is now a pretty saturated online market (by any organisation’s standards) the idea that all publicity is good publicity doesn’t quite hold the same weight it once did. A double page spread in your favourite broadsheet is all well and good, but only if the audience your company appeals to is likely to be reading it at the time.

Meanwhile, advances in the digital world mean the opportunity to communicate directly with your chosen audience has never been greater. In both instances, and disregarding the nature of the organisation at hand, the point of PR is always to engage with your target audience on some deeper level.

For the second year in a row, the Front Door Communications team have been lucky enough to be the PR agency chosen by Sweetmans and Partners to promote its Cardiff Capital Region Finance Legal and Professional Services (FLPS) Hackathon.

Rosie and Chris Sweetman run the people and business development company Sweetmans and Partners, and also lead an FLPS employers group for the Cardiff Capital Region. The group comprises of 25 firms from Wales who employ over 10,000 people, but the sector as a whole employs around 60,000 in Wales.

The group’s priorities are to develop people, build networks, raise the sector’s profile and make a positive contribution to society - with the Hackathons just one key output to come from these priorities.

Following a successful pilot in 2018, (an award-winning pilot, claiming a Chartered Institute of Personnel Development gong) the 2019 FLPS Hackathon had some new companies on board who were tasked with coming up with an idea of how the sector can collaborate to develop a skilled, talented and diverse workforce. The ultimate aim of which is to help the industry respond to the fast-changing and uncertain climate we’re all facing; not an easy question, and not an easy task.

participants at the FLPS hackathon 2019 standing together

Front Door Communications were brought on board to support the Sweetmans’ team in the lead up to the event with PR and social media support. We developed social media packs for the participating companies and staff members, as well as managing social media posts surrounding the event.

The social media engagement secured 93 retweets among those in the FLPS sector and helped to drive a conversation around what we can do to create a more diverse workforce.

Coverage for the event did also appear in business press publications, including Business News Wales and News from Wales, but the main point here was ultimately to make people feel connected and get them talking.

The key aspects of the overall brief (highlighted) involved supporting the industry in building networks, collaborating, responding and ultimately making positive contributions to possible solutions together - which the social media aspect of this campaign facilitated in a way print or even digital press coverage simply couldn’t.

So, when it comes to the rules of engagement, it seems we would all do well to remember that the best PR isn’t always about column inches, and column inches alone.

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