Does our defence procurement process need to be more flexible and agile?
The end of this week marks the deadline for industry to submit their proposals for the design phase of the UK Royal Navy’s Type 31e frigate requirement. As much as you can understand the reasons for pausing the programme in the summer which, according to MOD, was due to ‘inadequate competition’, you do wonder whether the delay will indeed make any difference. Or, whether the uncertainty around Brexit is having an impact.
Unfortunately, our choices are limited if we are to align with the National Shipbuilding Strategy and maximise UK capability to deliver this programme. Step back in time to the 1970’s and yes, it would have been a very different story but, competition from Japan, South Korea and China has taken its toll. Sir John Parker who provided the recommendations for the National Shipbuilding Strategy, was quoted saying that the UK failed to spot the big opportunities in the 80s, so the words “too little, too late” do spring to mind.
Couple these concerns with the cynicism that surrounds the price tag of these ships and it’s hard not to think that the programme is doomed to fail before it’s gained any real traction. Budget cuts are a very real issue facing the MOD however, we still need to manage expectations and question whether $328 million per ship, is a realistic figure.
Encouragingly, we wait with anticipation to see if Atlas Elektronik U.K. and Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems become the MOD’s 3rdoption. Will that then mean there is now ‘adequate competition’ for the programme to go ahead to the next stage? Only time will tell but rapid decisions will need to follow if there is any chance of industry meeting the delivery deadlines.
With Euronaval just around the corner, we’ll be looking forward to walking the floors, meeting clients and prospects and keeping our ear to the ground for any big defence announcements.
If you want to get more out of your cybersecurity PR and news stories in 2018, this article will tell you how. We interviewed three industry journalists to find out what they valued most and least from cybersecurity PRs.
Here’s what Tom Allen, Special Projects Editor at Computing, V3, and The Inquirer, Tony Morbin, Editor-in-Chief of SC Magazine and Dan Raywood, Contributing Editor of InfosecurityMagazine had to say.
1. What makes a good security story?
The rules for a good security story are simple according to Dan at Infosecurity: “Something that engages the reader, seeks to tell a story and is well written and researched.”
Tony at SC magazine told us that: “When choosing which story to follow up, we try to pick the one that will have the biggest impact on the reader in terms of doing their job better, helping their company or their career.” He went on to say: “Our audience targets cyber security professionals, so we are not looking for advice to consumers.” Tony also looks for new, insightful, attributable comment. “We want quotable quotes, i.e. not what everyone else has already said” and by attributable, he means the full name and job title of the person being quoted.
Tom at Computing says: “The most interesting stories, aside from those about something going wrong, are always the ones that involve a new use of technology, whether it’s a brand-new approach or an innovative use of existing systems.” He finds it frustrating when people don’t explain properly why a certain technology, such as AI, has been used or what is important about it and what benefit it will bring to security that other solutions don’t.
In most instances, the media want board level contributors – ideally not a sales or marketing executive who can make readers feel that they are being sold to. This is because editorial is about sharing information and knowledge, while provoking discussion and debate.
At ec-pr, our rule of thumb is that a story needs to introduce something new with a clearly articulated benefit and it should only be sent to press with an expressed interest in the subject matter. Stories should always be well-researched and written in a way that is engaging to the reader.
2. Why do some ‘great’ stories sometimes fail to be published?
Over the past 20+ years, we have never once failed to get press coverage for a story. Our process for researching, writing and securing approvals is robust – this is rooted in deep professional respect for both our clients and our press contacts. However, Tom tells us that some great-sounding stories arrive in his inbox incomplete and even when he asks for further details, he gets no response or an unusable one. He firmly believes that where subject knowledge is concerned “a little really does go a long way – any journalist will respect their PR contact more if they can discuss a press release with them instead of hearing the dreaded words, ‘Let me get back to you on that.”
Tom also says that slow response times can kill a story.
“Occasionally, answers to my questions come back within an hour; at other times I’ve waited days, by which time the story is old news. There’s often a reason for it, but journalists need to be informed if there’s a significant delay so that we can find another source.”
3. What could PR people do more of to help you produce interesting content?
An editorial campaign should include a variety of content types including news, thought leadership, comment, blogs and case studies. Case studies are particularly prized by the media and as such, are often the hardest to secure in any depth.
Tony commented that, in addition to providing the basics (who, what, why, when, where and how), providing detailed narrative on why something is important will help a story to stand out, especially if your story is one of several on the subject. He also points out that a good picture can sell a story.
Dan makes an interesting point about the number of journalists being such that they are usually busy with the work they need to, so following up on all of the other opportunities offered to them is just not possible.
So, our take on this is that partially formed, poorly thought out ideas are simply not going to get a look in.
4. What are the most common mistakes people make when approaching you?
Over the years, we have learnt that telephoning journalists to ask if they’ve received a press release is a waste of everyone’s time, but Tom’s experience surprised even us. He told us that PRs phone him
“just to read off the first paragraph from a press release and then ask if they can send the PR to me: instant turn off. Don’t do it.”
Being accurate is critical to the credibility of journalism. Journalists check their stories and expect PRs to be accurate in the information they share, so Tony’s confession is understandable: “We make mistakes, but we get really annoyed when PRs make the mistakes for us, then send us a correction, asking us to change something they previously sent.”
Tony gives a valuable heads-up: “A big mistake is not putting the most important/interesting thing at the front. EG ‘Everyone at Natwest has had £100 stolen from them’, rather than, New research has been published by leading global cyber security company LockupmyData, conducted by the highly regarded Whatsitallabout research company as a result of face to face interviews with 6,000 cyber security professionals last year. The findings show that Lockupmydata is rated reliable by 49 percent of respondents’…… then mention the £100 three paras later…… We do want all those other details, but we want to know why we should be interested.”
Dan’s ‘common mistake’ is more fundamental and perhaps less forgivable
“usually not knowing what we actually cover or what we and our audience look for.”
My take out from these conversations is that cybersecurity journalists remain busy, inquisitive and professional people. They need fully formed, well written and engaging material combined with informed and responsive communication. If you are tardy in dealing with the press you can expect your media profile to languish, but treat journalists with the same professional respect as you would any other business colleague and you’ll reap some impressive rewards.
It’s only 8 weeks until Seawork International, the ‘go to’ event for the commercial marine and workboat market. So, if your organisation is exhibiting, now is the time to work out how you are going to make a splash in the press. Seawork benefits from a number of media supporters, providing you with a great opportunity to get press coverage in and around show. Make sure to:
Draw up a press list of magazines and websites in which you’d like your company to appear in
Research the contact details of the news contacts (top tip: get a name not a generic email address)
Find out the submission deadlines.
Here are some quick wins for you, but act now, as some of the deadlines are fast approaching:
Maritime Journal (June issue): The June bumper issue provides organisations with the perfect opportunity to showcase their latest developments. Keep in mind the deadline which is the 12th May – more information can be found here, including where to submit your ideas/articles.
Hydro International (May/June issue): Any news needs to be submitted to the Editor by the 9th May. Click here to email the Editor.
You may also find it useful to know who is planning on attending the event. Contact the press office 2 weeks before the show to request a list of journalists.
We help our clients to communicate more effectively. A big part of our work is to engage with journalists who represent the media our clients value and we develop editorial ideas, rooted in our clients’ communication strategy, that are relevant, engaging and well argued. By delivering high value stories to the media, on time and to brief, we secure the trust and respect of both our clients and press contacts. To find out more about us and what we do, click here or email Lorraine Emmett
Improving an organsisation’s communication effectiveness
The incoming Chief Executive believed that the communication functions of the RHA were falling short of acceptable standards required of a trade organisation and commissioned Lorraine Emmett to conduct a communications audit, to establish options for change and help facilitate the implementation of the CEO’s vision.
Detailed and wide ranging information was secured to support the Chief Executive in making informed business decisions in order to move the organisation forward. An organisation restructure was initiated including the overhaul and restructure of the communications function and the creation of a new role: head of marcomms.
Richard Burnett, RHA Chief Executive: “This audit was critical to enabling the change programme. It provided valuable insights and helped to clarify my view on how to improve the organisation’s communication effectiveness. An essential part of the RHA’s remit is to get the industry’s voice heard.”
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Acting as part of your team we seek out news from all part of your organisation and prepare it for the media.
Acting as part of your team we seek out news from all part of your organisation and prepare it for the media.
A regular flow of news about your developments and achievements shows you are an active operator in your market.
We make sure these stories are visable in the places where your customers seek out infomation.
“The team proved to be a reliable extension of our in-house marketing department; developing, securing and delivering high quality media coverage which supported our business objectives both tactically and strategically”
Regular news in the media which announce contract wins, new products and services, events and so on demonstrates to your target audiences that you are a dynamic and successful business. Despite press releases being at the heart of the field of Public Relations, it still amazes us how PR companies can get them so wrong! We have a proven track record in crafting newsworthy stories for our clients which not only convey the organisation’s key messages, but spark interest with the media channels we target.
A news release should always start with a short informative title. It should comprise a series of short informative paragraphs. The subject of the release should be introduced in the first paragraph providing the most important piece of news. The paragraph should be written so that it could stand alone as a short news item.
The second and subsequent paragraphs should be succinct comprising short intelligible sentences which elaborate on the information given in the first paragraph. It should be possible to edit the news release from the bottom up, paragraph by paragraph – so each paragraph should be complete in itself.
If the press release is considerably over a page in length, the paragraph or sentence should not be split.
Anyone quoted in the copy should be available for interview or comment after the release has been sent out. There’s no point in positioning someone as a spokesperson if they’re on holiday.
The end of a release should always be clearly indicated and editorial contact details provided. Every release should be accompanied by two or three good quality photographs.
Finally, and most importantly, a news release must always be sent to named media contacts never info@, news@ certainly not features@
Does our defence procurement process need to be more flexible and agile? The end of this week marks the deadline for industry to submit their proposals for the design phase of the UK Royal Navy’s Type 31e frigate requirement. As much as you can understand the reasons...
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