THE ONE QUESTION ALL PR PROFESSIONALS SHOULD ASK.
One of the first things that you’re trained to do as a journalist is to ask the 'Bucket Question' – just a little line to drop in to the end of an interview to ask, “…what else are you up to, what else are you doing today?”
It’s a question that thousands of journalists around the world ask politicians, business directors, campaigners and members of the public every single day – just to see if there’s another (and possibly better) story that they can get out of an interviewee, to see if there’s something they can stick into the diary for a follow-up the following week, or just to add to their background understanding of what’s going on in their patch.
It’s also a great question for PR consultants to ask their clients.
The reason that we get hired in the first place is to offer some media expertise and insight to a client. Those clients – whether they’re in the commercial, regulatory or charity fields – are often doing amazing and fascinating things. But all too often, they don’t see them as potential stories, but as 'business as usual.' Basically, they can’t see the wood for the trees.
It doesn’t have to be like that. What strikes a client who is (rightly) focussed on their day job as very run-of-the-mill might actually be a great story that can raise awareness and highlight an interesting angle on a story in a novel way that might get News Editors interested.
Two members of staff are getting married? That’s a potential human interest story. A new employee who has just made a massive career change from a totally unrelated field? Ditto. Your client has just taken on a new bit of work? That’s a potential case study to strengthen a media release. Old pieces of kit getting replaces, or new branding being put in place? That’s a potential image for your social media channels. Dealing with a change of regulation in another jurisdiction, or a national story that touches on your client’s work? That’s a potential editorial of interest to the wider industry.
These kinds of things don’t always strike a client as interesting or newsworthy – but they’re opportunities to get your client some coverage and raise their profile in a slightly leftfield way. Journalism and PR are very different trades with very different goals. But sometimes, PR consultants can learn a lot from what journalists do every day.