Stanley I PResume

31st March 2009

Listening to Radio 4 on the 25th March 2010, I was reminded of the effectiveness of the "drip feed" approach that PR consultants often refer to. The interviewee was Stanley Johnson, father of London Mayor Boris Johnson and journalist Rachel Johnson. He was discussing his autobiography, "Stanley I Presume". 

I stayed to listen to the interview because I had been intrigued by Ben Leach's article in the Telegraph a fortnight earlier, in which he previewed the book and alluded to Stanley Johnson's brief stint as a spy. This whetted my appetite. I had also read a piece in the Observer on 22nd March by Rachel Cooke, which gave a different impression of the book, while still making it sound like an interesting read.

The book launch took place last Friday 27th, apparently with Boris in attendance, but by then I'd already made up my mind to get a copy.

This serves as a great example of how "drip feed" PR can follow the A.I.D.A. model (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) of the advertising world:

  • With the initial interview in the Telegraph on 9th March, Ben Leach (via Mr Johnson's PR team) attracted my attention. Because he only alluded briefly to the spy role, Mr Leach captured my interest and created a desire to find out more about the book.
  • Reading Rachel Cooke's review in the Observer on 22nd March, reminded me that I had read the initial article, reinvigorated the initial interest created by the Telegraph article and provided additional details on the autobiography (along with a criticism of the prose) which increased my desire to read the book for myself.
  • Happening to hear the Radio 4 interview as I went to make myself a coffee on the 25th March, gave me the opportunity to hear from Stanley Johnson himself.
  • By the time I read his daughter's review in the Evening Standard on 26th March, I'd already decided to order Stanley Johnson’s book from Amazon. At this point the book launch hadn't even taken place.

Following the same AIDA model, a carefully prepared PR campaign, should provide a steady flow of coverage to your target audience, regularly reminding them of your key messages and the benefits of your product or service. Too many companies think that all they need to do to launch a new product is to send out a single press release to as many journalists as possible. This approach may get you one or two pieces of coverage, but it won’t allow you to create a relationship with your most important journalists and consequently, it won’t achieve long term visibility with your customers and prospects.

Instead, try providing each journalist with a slightly different aspect of your story over a period of a few weeks or months. By enabling them to write articles tailored to their particular readership, you can help to sustain the awareness and interest in your service. As Mr Johnson’s coverage demonstrates, a carefully planned and sustained campaign is far more effective at creating awareness, interest and desire to purchase your product than a single press release sent to a hundred journalists.