What Is Reactive PR and Why It’s Important: Benefits of Responsiveness in Digital PR

In a nutshell, PR refers to how information and data about a person or brand goes out to the public and the media. There are numerous strategies pros use to get this across, and one of them is reactive PR.


Here, we’ll talk you through the ins and outs of the method, including the benefits and the best ways to implement it into your PR strategy. Plus, successful examples of reactive PR to show you that it really works…


Defining Reactive PR: Characteristics and Approach

Reactive PR is when you spot a real-time opportunity to gain coverage and links for a brand. For example, there may be a big news story circulating online with a huge audience following – if your brand/business relates to it in some way, you can use the already established audience to generate spontaneous media coverage. Free advertisement, essentially.

It’s also about offering to be a part of the conversation when the opportunities arise by responding to interview requests, providing commentary and offering case studies for journos, and also positioning your brand as thought leaders in the media and your industry. As well as this, reactive PR can be an effective solution in crisis management… 


Importance of Reactive PR in Crisis Management

While crises can vary in scale and in nature, it’s important you react as soon as possible to avoid any risks to your business. In terms of reactive PR, it can be a saving grace when dealing with crisis management. 

This is because it allows you to take control of the situation and clearly communicate your response, whatever the issue may be. A reactive, carefully constructed statement can act to diffuse any negative commentary by answering any questions about the situation, without making it sound like a super big deal.

Reacting with a written statement also gives you complete control over the language you use to explain the issue, not to mention allowing you to be as detailed or as vague as you want. It’s also your words, which means you have less chance of being misquoted as a pose to speaking in an interview.


Effective Strategies for Implementing Reactive PR

We actually produced an article a while back on newsjacking/reactive PR, with advice on successful steps that have been tried and tested. These include:


Setting up news alerts

Reactive PR is obviously fast-paced, so you need to be on the ball at all times if you want to make the most of imminent opportunities. Setting up news alerts is a quick way to find out about events/conversations related to your brand that you can jump on straight away. It also saves you from trawling the internet for hours before you find a suitable story.

Also, have your notifications turned on on social media apps like Twitter, plus Google Alerts to track specific keywords in stories.

Find the experts

Once you’ve decided on the story you’re going to jump on, you need to make sure you’ve got an expert on your team who can accurately and professionally deliver commentary. If you don’t have a thought leader within your brand but know your company would work well alongside the story, search your media list for people who have commented on the subject in the past. The main point is to always ensure you have the means to comment on the issue – it doesn’t matter if the story fits your brand perfectly, if you can’t provide expert information, you’re less likely to be taken seriously. 

Side note: this means always make sure your media list is up to date.

Speed is everything

Of course, setting up news alerts helps you with this. Opportunities typically appear at very short notice – sometimes all you have is one or two days to act. In this time, it’s vital you not only put your brand at the centre of the conversation but also ensure the opportunity is vetted to avoid any negative publicity.

Plus, the faster you respond, the more chance your brand has of being the first voice on the matter, which naturally generates more publicity and gives you a higher chance of becoming the thought leader on the subject.


Benefits of Responsiveness in Public Relations

Responsiveness in PR has many benefits for a brand, including:

Helps build strong relationships with journalists

Regularly engaging with journos and giving them your valuable insights and opinions can help you to form strong relationships with media figures that matter. This constant communication puts your brand at the forefront of their minds when they’re looking for quotes or expert opinions, which in turn increases your chances of being featured in more news stories.  

Increases your credibility and thought leadership

When you regularly provide these insights to journos, you’re solidifying your brand as a thought leader in your industry. This boosts your authority and credibility with your target audience which then helps you sustain current customers and attract new ones.

It increases your visibility 

When you’re actively responsive to journalists’ requests, you’re putting yourself out there to increase your visibility. You’re more likely to be featured in news stories and media coverage, which only increases your audience reach. This is especially helpful when you’re short on ideas and content for your own press releases.


Case Studies: Successful Examples of Reactive PR 

Want to see reactive PR in action? Here are some examples of successful strategies:


Not to blow our own trumpets, but we’ve conducted some pretty impressive reactive PR campaigns over the years. One of our favourites was for the finance company, Admirals, who were looking to increase their traffic on Google. Finance SEO can be a tricky niche, so we had to find a creative way to create a buzz around them. We found that a reactive PR strategy would be the best way, and so decided to weigh in on the increase in inflation in the UK and the rising cost of energy bills.

So, we reached out to industry specific sites across the target countries with business related news. The sites we approached covered the business updates, with the majority of them linking back to the Admirals site. This reactive approach positioned Amirals as thought leaders in their industry, with them commenting on financial updates from huge businesses like Amazon and Disney. 

Take a look here for the full case study detailing what we did and how we did it.


Back in 2020, IKEA launched their Euro 2020 inspired water bottle. This was following a press conference where Christiano Ronaldo removed two bottles of Coca-Cola from the table (which was the official partner of the Euros that year) and encouraged football fans to drink water instead.

After going viral, IKEA jumped on the bandwagon and released their own water bottles and named them after Ronaldo. The simple design read “for water only”, which highlighted the reactive link and put the brand at the centre of the conversation on a huge scale. Ronaldo is the most followed person on Instagram, after all.


Final Thoughts

It’s a non-negotiable – reactive PR is an incredibly important strategy when launching PR campaigns. Not only does it provide brands with ample opportunities to put themselves in front of large, already established audiences, but it’s also an example of how they can become thought leaders in their fields. Which as we know, is so important in terms of trustworthiness and authoritativeness for both Google and prospective customers. By selecting reactive PR as a marketing method – only if the time and the conversation fits with your brand – it can help open up your world to everyone else’s.


Ellie Mckenna

Content Executive

MSc Digital Marketing & Communications. All things pattern and design. Find me eating pizza in a floral print 🌸🍕
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