PR Insight: How To Crack Budget Stories?
Budget stories: We all agree this is the first stress point of the year for the PR & media community. After a turbulent year, this budget will see high strung responses from all sectors. This is also the time you are warned about DND (do not disturb) posts from journalists and most PR approaches are met with (love or hate) strong reactions. However, this year we want to aim at changing the narrative. So, we reached out to the strong voices in the communications industry and sourced insights that you can use to help make your quotes more relevant for the media and plan the best approach for the coveted “budget stories” for your clients!
Valerie Pinto, CEO, Weber Shandwick
“Always remember to represent your business ask from the government as an industry point of view. Present your case from a macro-economic perspective. While commenting on the budget – applaud the government for the effort and initiatives taken followed by your statement. Go on record to acknowledge a win in the following format – win for the country, then the industry and then bring the company benefit in”.
Bhaskar Majumdar, Head Corporate Affairs, Communication & Digital Media, Egis India Consulting Engineers Pvt Ltd
“In general, during the budget time, I avoid calling up any journalist for stories. A short, crisp to the point pre-budget quote, which focuses on a specific industry and its needs and not a generic quote with a quality photograph of the spokesperson, is a good thing to share. For authored articles, a 800 word article, with a catchy and meaningful headline focusing on the industry, followed by a subhead explaining the requirement, is a good format. Body copy should focus on the industry and its requirements, sharing data points to back up and what impact the industry can bring to the economy”.
Kapil Sharma, Head of Communications and CSR, Ford India
“Budget related stories not just require in-depth understanding of one’s own sector but of the economy at large. It involves understanding of everything micro and macro, either said, outlined or left unspoken at times in Budget speeches. Every Communications professional should invest in understanding these finer nuances, whilst building thought leadership for their leaders while participating in this annual exercise”.
Nimish Dubey, Editorial Mentor at TechPP
“The biggest challenge is to avoid cliches. Because everyone tends to go crazy using them at budget time. The more cliches you use – “a new dawn,” “a Great Leap Forward”, “a new era” the worse it gets. So if you are getting client quote reactions to the budget, keep the cliches down. The other thing is to react to specifics as much as possible rather than to go for generally sweeping statements. Results in tighter focus. Finally, keep in mind how your competitors are going to react. And try and make sure your responses are different. As queries are generally the same from the media.”
Pooja Sabharwal, PayPal
“It is important to keep the perspective relevant to what is happening in the economy. Including a sectoral point of view also makes it more relevant. Budget perspectives should not be a prescription of grievances that need to be addressed for one company”.
Sandeep Rao, Founding Partner & CEO at One Source
Be empathetic: every journalist under the sun is going to be covering only the Budget. Quite like the day the coronavirus was declared a pandemic. Be cognisant of the fact that unless your call adds value to a very busy day for the media, that call is not made at all.
Be topical: don’t pitch a product launch, or a webinar invite, unrelated to the Budget, to the journalist. It might be very pertinent to their beat, but on that day, they really don’t care, unless your story saves the world from Thanos.
Be well-researched: make sure that if you send inputs from a client, they tie into the client’s industries, or those they impact. Gautam Mengle at CySpy covers cyber security, but unless you can explain the adverse impact on the end consumer, of budgetary relief not being allocated towards the cyber security space, who help digitally transform the BFSI sector in an increasingly digital ecosystem, don’t bother pitching the story.
Be Batman: render assistance, not damage. And do it in the background. On Budget day, being in the foreground is not your most important skill set. The stage is occupied by the Budget, the audience is the media. Your job is to make sure that when the audience walks out of the theatre and is going to file a story having heard the entire Budget, you usher them out comfortably, adding value (quotes / inputs etc.) to their lives”.