2 Feb 2024

No news isn’t always good news: How to handle a client announcement drought

Written by Joe Jordan, Junior Account Manager at Spreckley

There really is no worse situation than being saddled with a client who’s keen to do PR but has next to nothing to announce.

Perhaps they’re having issues launching a new product, maybe too much of their time is being spent on critical work elsewhere, or it could even be the case that there is genuinely nothing interesting to report at their company.

Whatever the reason, with no press releases to issue, keeping up a steady cadence of coverage can become an uphill battle for even the most skilled PRs.

So, how can account teams keep coverage numbers up and clients happy when they’re all out of news stories?

Thought leadership is your friend

When there are no announcements to make and none on the horizon, adopting a thought leadership-driven approach can compensate for a lack of hard news coverage. A meagre stream of press releases can be exacerbated by a client who has little to say about wider issues in their industry, but as PRs it’s our job to draw out insights that can be converted into media-friendly content.

It’s also vital that the agency keeps its ear to the ground for any breaking news stories that are relevant to the client. Jumping on and responding to a topical event is likely to resonate with the press, regardless of the sector in which the client operates, so always be ready to use industry developments to your advantage.

Similarly, focusing on specific challenges in an industry is a vital tactic to keep the wheels of activity turning. Say your client is a fintech – are there any interesting themes in the financial sector that they are qualified to comment on? The broader the range of subjects you can convince your spokespeople to explore, the longer the list of content options becomes.

Research is gold dust

Turning to a research-led strategy is another option to consider when looking to dig an account out of an unproductive rut. Original research is gold dust for PRs who know how to use it, and having new and exciting data points at their disposal equips an agency with everything they need to run a successful campaign. A white paper alone can spawn multiple press releases and bylined articles that keep the content pipeline alive for months.

Now, the biggest challenge of convincing a client that research might be the way to go is that these projects cost money – sometimes lots of it. However, if you can pitch them an overarching topic that has genuine relevance to their business, explore an angle that hasn’t been delved into before and back up your ideas with past evidence that this approach works, it becomes significantly easier to get the client onside.

Between finalising the research, drafting the white paper, putting together press releases and pitching these out to the media, a lack of activity will certainly not be an issue once the project is approved. And if the research touches on something that is of genuine interest to the client’s target press, the results will speak for themselves.

What constitutes news?

Don’t just sit there and wait for a client to update you on the latest and most gripping developments going on at their company. A lot of the time they won’t offer up this information of their own accord.

Make sure to ask on every catch up if there’s anything new going on and if there are any plans their PR agency should know about. This often leads to them providing some important information that they may have overlooked that can be used as the basis for a press release.

This leads me to perhaps the most important point for PRs to remember: don’t expect the client to understand what is and isn’t enough for a news announcement. Do they have a new product in the works? Have they recently signed a new customer? Is there scope for a case study with an existing customer? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then that’s more than enough to open up a new stream of activity.

Even a simple appointment release is better than nothing when times are tough. It may not make the front page of a national, but you could still secure coverage in a trade title that is highly relevant to the industry the client operates in.

Ultimately, when a client is not forthcoming, the key is not to panic. A PR has plenty of tricks up their sleeve that can convert radio silence into tangible results.