Neutrality: The PR Catch-22

Generally speaking, most people seek to avoid conflict. It’s often unpleasant, time-consuming and undermines our universal desire to be liked. The major con about neutrality, however, is the same as its major benefit: the unlikelihood of provoking a reaction.

In the PR business, neutrality is a non-starter. PR professionals are always looking for the newsworthy angle, as are the reporters to whom they pitch day in and day out. Neutrality, in 99% of cases, is not newsworthy. What captures attention is having an opinion – clear, defined commentary that either offers a new perspective or flies against the tide of public sentiment.

Take Donald Trump as an example. The Donald is famous for a lot of things these days, most of which are unflattering: the oompa loompa aesthetic, the compulsive lying, and, of course, the inflammatory commentary. Yes, large swathes of the global population would place Trump somewhere between Cruella De Vil and Lord Voldemort on the scale of evil, but the reality is that, for good or bad, we’re all talking about him. The New York Times estimated that Trump has earned almost $2 billion worth of media coverage over the course of his campaign, a figure that is double that of the nearest competitor and will only climb as November draws nearer.

So how has he managed it, on one of the smallest campaign budgets to boot?

Trump evokes an emotional response, as all truly engaging content does. His comments spark debate (and therefore coverage) across every media channel imaginable – including print, broadcast and social. He (and his PR team) are capitalizing on the great truth of the media industry: controversy sells.

Distinct opinions provide material for reporters, and in turn their readers, to sink their teeth into. They elicit reactions, provoke discussion and engender thought. Neutral, high-level commentary packs far less of a punch. Most companies don’t possess the brand heft enjoyed by Apple that stops the presses with every announcement. This is where opinionated commentary comes into play. By providing insight that adds dimension to existing stories and trends, even smaller brands can earn coverage and increase their relevance.

Don’t be afraid to have an opinion.

Think about what unique insight your company can provide that ties into your product offerings. Consider what conversations are taking place in your field and how you might be able to participate. What misconceptions exist around these trends? What angle of the discussion has yet to be covered? What is likely to evoke a response, be it curiosity, humor, disbelief or even rage?

You don’t need to be inflammatory or eccentric to secure coverage, but you should be thought-provoking.

Call it obvious, but earned media has to be earned. Taking the nonpartisan route, while safe, will get you nowhere fast.

Contact us today to start securing the response you’re looking for.

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