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5 ways PR is like Masterchef

Posted by Joe McNamara on 27th August 2014

Well you can’t fault my commitment to the cause. Yes I am about to compare the recipe for running a great PR campaign to a winning three-course meal on Masterchef. So let’s just get straight to it, assuming I haven’t lost you already.

1) Preparation: ‘Do or die’ cooking as Gregg Wallace describes it requires meticulous preparation. Anything can go wrong at any time (now you see where I’m going with this!). Launching a company, a new product, or even a social media campaign can take weeks of preparation. It’s up to your PR agency to help you obtain buy-in from other decision makers in the business. So before you dive in head first, consider whether you have clear messaging around your company and the services it provides. Involve people from other areas of the business so they can feed into the messaging process and tell you what results would benefit them. Like any recipe, having a clear idea of what results you want to achieve is fundamental to the success of the process.

2) Ingredients: John and Gregg are looking for flavours that ‘knock their socks off’. It’s got to be a lot more than home cooking to get the nod. Given the modern media landscape it’s not just chefs that are finding it hard to stand out from the crowd. The days of pumping out press releases and hitting the phones are, let’s face it, probably not over. However, brands have to create content that impresses as well as informs. Hence, PR agencies are constantly adding to their skills in design and increasing their knowledge of internet culture. Consequently, the majority of campaigns we work on involve slideshares, infographics, industry reports, videos and anything that’s just a little bit different. In the same way that using fresh, carefully sourced ingredients brings a meal to life, telling a story in a different way is a good way of raising awareness more effectively.

3) Timing: The margin for error when cooking a Beef Wellington medium-rare versus setting the panna cotta is almost non-existent. In the same way, during the post-recession economy, clients are demanding more for their money when hiring a PR agency. Furthermore, given the plethora of possible materials mentioned above, you need to know that it’s all going to be produced in time for launch date. As a cook will note down his timings to the second, making effective use of timelines is a reliable way of keeping track of PR activity – from when you announce your industry report findings to when you send a certain tweet. This gives visibility and peace of mind to clients and also leaves no excuses for not delivering in time!

4) Judging: It’s no holds barred in the world of Haute Cuisine and we’ve seen contestants reduced to tears by the scathing remarks of food critics. PR is all about knowing your audience. Having met a fair few journalists in my time, there are a couple of things the vast majority of them will tell you. They want stories, not promotion, and your chances of impressing increase dramatically if you send something that is targeted at their readers and not ‘industry decision makers’ in general. Also, they need everything they need to write their story readily available, whether that’s photos, videos or vital background information. Think of a story without these additions as an unseasoned main course.

5) Presentation: It’s a joyous moment when Dave the builder from Wolverhampton turns his enormous, clumsy hands into an instrument capable of creating an ‘exquisite’ dessert. That’s usually when the tears start. Similarly, sometimes during a PR campaign you need to present results and feedback in a way that informs those within your client’s business that may have a different interpretation of what success looks like. Agencies need to consult with clients on how success is measured and presented to the wider business.

Well if you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I’m sure that you, as I, will never see Masterchef the same way again.

Joe McNamara