Want to know what makes a successful PR story? Stoned sheep, doggy tails, and a dolphin midwife, that’s what…

It’s August – the mercury continues to rise and the news is littered with more quirky stories than you can shake your ice lolly at. Yes, we’re in ‘silly season’ AKA the period lasting for a few balmy weeks when most families with school children choose to take holidays, Parliament and legislative bodies are on summer recess, and many employers reduce their activity because staff and customers are on annual leave.

In other words, not as much is happening; it’s slow news season – or “komkommertijd” (cucumber time), as the Dutch call it. So, in an effort to hang onto readers and subscribers, many newspapers, news sites, TV and radio stations tend to swim a little deeper into the weird to excavate content and produce attention-grabbing headlines that will boost viewing figures, web hits and newspaper sales.

While in other months, there are definitely important factors to consider when it comes to creating a good PR story (more on that in a moment), in July and August there seems to be no sensible rhyme or reason. However, we’ve noticed that one thing these ‘silly season’ news stories do often have in common is the presence of all creatures great and small…

Are you shore?

The Metro reported the story of a woman who planned to give birth in the ocean with a dolphin as a midwife. The Hawaiian mum-to-be felt that the experience would enhance the magic of her labour, with the added benefit of helping the baby to speak dolphin. If you’re expecting and sea life isn’t your thing, it will come as a relief to hear that this story also included a warning from experts that wild animals may not be the right choice of midwife for everyone.

Dog days of summer

Oh, how that old north/south rivalry rages on, come rain or shine! This time in canine form. In 2016, Sky News devoted a meaty chunk of air time to a story about how southern dogs wag their tails more than their chilly brothers and sisters up north. Based on research from Edinburgh University, a phenomenon known as ‘limber tail’ explains why dogs in the north of England lose some of their wag because of the colder temperatures. Journalist Kay Burley was forced to leap to the defence of this news story, telling its critics on Twitter to ‘get a life’.

Baa-d medicine

STONED SHEEP GO ON PSYCHOTIC RAMPAGE AFTER EATING CANNABIS PLANTS DUMPED IN WELSH VILLAGE! Headlines like these featured in The Daily Mail, Telegraph, Mirror and USA Today one recent summer after an adventurous flock in Rydypandy came across the remains of a cannabis plantation dumped in the Swansea valley, and decided they rather liked the new flavour of grass. County councillor Ioan Richard raised the alarm saying, “There is a flock of sheep roaming the village causing a nuisance. They are getting in people’s gardens and one even entered a bungalow and left a mess in the bedroom.”

On a less silly note…

We all know this long, hot, silly summer will only last so long. Soon enough, we’ll have to go back to normality and take a more serious approach to PR campaigns again. As a marketing and PR agency in Basingstoke, we often get asked ‘what makes a successful PR story?’ That’s why we wanted to share these interesting results from a YouGov survey of journalists and others in the media, combined with our own top tips.

  • Choose your spokesperson wisely. 84% of respondents said that having a truly independent and respected spokesperson adds weight to a PR story. Line up a spokesperson – CEO, customer, Finance Director, external advisory – whose words and profile will resonate most with the audience you’re trying to reach.
  • No need to call the celebrity booking agent. Only 37% think celebrity endorsements add any weight to a PR story at all (perhaps because there’s always the suspicion they’ve been paid for).
  • The right research counts. 72% believe that market research findings add power to a story, especially if a well-known firm with a solid reputation was used to provide the research (86%). 97% of respondents believe that having a robust survey sample size is important.
  • Build stronger relationships with the media – and grow your brand profile. 64% of those surveyed said they’re most likely to read a press release if it’s from a recognised sender. 43% are also more likely to read a PR story if they have a good relationship with the communications professional sending it.
  • Your headline and subject line count as much as your story. 68% of media professionals surveyed said they would be far more likely to read a press release based on a compelling subject line and headline. No matter how tight your deadline, never make this an afterthought!

If the mediocre results of your PR stories are driving you silly and you want to improve your approach and maximise media coverage, get in touch with us. Brevity is a marketing company in Basingstoke, Hampshire offering a range of marketing services and PR support. Call us on 01256 536 000 to discuss how we can help you, or drop us an email