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A wake-up call for British SMEs



In the fast-paced world of public relations, timing is everything. As someone who has spent years navigating the intricacies of media relations and crisis management, I cannot stress enough how critical speed is when it comes to getting your name featured in news stories.

In the fast-paced world of public relations, timing is everything. As someone who has spent years studying the complexities of media relations and crisis management, I cannot emphasize enough how crucial speed is when it comes to getting your name in news stories.

This is particularly true in the context of events of enormous public interest, such as the recent British general election.

Why speed is important

When news breaks, journalists are on high alert, looking for new angles, expert opinions and immediate responses. The opportunity to deliver these insights is often measured in minutes, not days. Sending a response four days after a major event is not only ineffective, it’s also a huge waste of time and resources.

Imagine this scenario: an important political event takes place and your PR firm comes up with a perfect response. However, it remains in their inbox for days and is not sent until the news cycle has moved on. By then, the media has already published countless stories and moved on to the next big thing. Your carefully crafted comment is now irrelevant, buried under a pile of newer updates.

The financial costs of delays

For SMEs, every pound counts. Hiring a PR firm can be a significant investment, but if they are slow to respond, you might as well take that money to the parking lot and set it on fire. At least you’ll get some warmth in this unusual British summer. A delayed response not only fails to capitalize on the immediate news cycle, but also wastes the budget allocated to timely PR interventions.

Useful advice for SMEs

Set clear expectations

: Make sure your PR firm understands the importance of speed. Set clear guidelines for how quickly they should respond to major events.

Prepare in advance: Work with your PR team to prepare draft responses for different scenarios. Having pre-approved responses can save valuable time when news breaks.

Stay informed: Stay up to date on important news events, especially if they are relevant to your industry. This allows you to respond in a timely and relevant manner.

Make use of social media: Sometimes your official channels are slower. Use social media platforms to share immediate responses while your PR team crafts a more detailed response.

Evaluate performance: Regularly assess the performance of your PR company. If they consistently fail to respond in a timely manner, it may be time to reconsider your partnership.

In the field of public relations, speed, especially during high-stakes events such as general elections, is not only an advantage but a necessity. SMEs need to ensure their PR firms are equipped to act quickly and effectively. Delayed responses are a waste of time and money and undermine the purpose of hiring PR professionals. By prioritizing speed and setting clear expectations, small and medium businesses can grow their media presence and make the most of every opportunity.

Remember that in PR, coming second is not an option. Be the first, be quick and make your mark.

Richard Alvin

Richard Alvin is a serial entrepreneur, former adviser to the UK government on small business and an Honorary Teaching Fellow on Business at Lancaster University. Winner of the London Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the year and Freeman of the City of London for services to business and charities. Richard is also Group MD of Capital Business Media and SME business research firm Trends Research, regarded as one of the leading experts in the SME sector in Britain and an active angel investor and advisor to start-up companies. Richard is also the host of Save Our Business, the US-based business advice television show.