PR lessons from Shark Week to stay above water

By in PR
On August 5, 2019

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Shark week PR

Personal fact – I wanted to be a marine biologist when I grew up. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But what better way to incorporate my B2B PR background and love of the ocean and marine life than to write a blog about television’s longest-running, and most anticipated summer program event of the year – Shark Week!

Now you may be thinking, ‘what in the world do sharks have to do with B2B PR?’ Well, I’m going to tell you. And no, I’m not going to compare PR pros to sharks. We may be ruthless at times, but that’s not the type of connection I’m going to be making.

Let’s look at some key takeaways PR pros can learn from Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.

Think outside the box, or in this case, shark cage

During Shark Week, you’ll probably want to stay in the shark cage where it’s safe, but when working in B2B PR, it’s a good idea to step outside of it! Creativity is key when working in almost any industry. It helps bring fresh ideas and it allows you to step out of your comfort zone, which can be imperative to stay afloat in B2B PR. Sometimes it may be our clients that we need to help step out of this “safe zone” and take some risks. It’s easy to get stuck in the comfort of the normal day-to-day. When you start thinking more creatively and have regular brainstorming sessions with colleagues and clients, that’s when those great ideas emerge.

How to stay above water with your social media engagement

Social media is like the abyss – once you dive in, you could drown in the sea of endless posts, or get swallowed up by something greater than you. No, not a shark – although, a whale shark’s mouth is about five feet wide, so… I’m talking about your competition. On social media everyone is after the same thing, whether you’re a B2B company, professional athlete or beauty blogger. You’re trying to engage with your audience and stay relevant to keep their attention and gain new followers. Here are some ways to help your B2B clients stay relevant and increase engagement:

For more tips on developing a social media strategy, check out the tips in a previous lorry blog.

When you chum the waters and hope to get a bite

Sometimes you’ll pitch a client announcement to press and because the announcement is a pretty “big deal” you expect multiple bites. But sometimes you might just get a little nibble or maybe nothing at all. If you chum the same waters over and over throughout the day, the sharks are eventually going to get full and stop biting. The same goes for press. If you continue to pitch the same journalists and don’t do your due diligence and find out the specific or current topics they’re working on, those journalists are going to stop biting.

Keep one eye open and stay alert

Sharks don’t sleep the same way humans do. Some species never sleep at all, and the ones that do sleep with their eyes open. And since some sharks breathe through gills, they always have to be in motion. No, I’m not trying to say that if you work in the PR industry you never sleep – although I’m sure we’ve all had those weeks where it seemed like it. What I’m trying to say is that similar to some species of sharks, PR professionals need to stay alert, keeping their eyes peeled for – no, not a great white – the latest trends, current events, potential opportunities and more! A good example is how you can turn a current event or trend into a thought leadership opportunity for your client, whether it’s a bylined article, blog post or interview.

Shark week sharks
Media interviews – don’t dive in unprepared

You wouldn’t dive into a sea of sharks without knowing what kind of sharks they are, right? In B2B PR, it’s equally important that you don’t dive into a media interview with your client without doing your research. For example, find out who the journalist is, what they’re looking for, and what their perception is of your client. The last thing you want is for your client to dive into the interview and get eaten! Okay, a journalist wouldn’t do that, and sharks aren’t maneaters, but you get the idea.

For more tips on preparing for media interviews, check out this lorry blog.

Don’t judge a shark by the size of its jaws

Some of the most powerful bites can come from sharks that look harmless. Have you heard of the cookiecutter shark? They’re relatively small, but don’t let its size fool you. This parasitic shark gets its name because it uses its round mouth to take cookie-sized bites out of larger marine creatures – yikes! Like the cookiecutter shark, in B2B PR, sometimes it’s the small ideas that can have the most powerful outcomes. It’s great to have big ideas and put together large and detailed campaigns, but don’t forget the less is more rule every now and then. For example, the Fiji water woman at the 2018 Golden Globes. Since 2015, Fiji has been the official water brand of the Golden Globe Awards. According to a Time magazine article, in 2018 the company teamed up with a modeling agency to present the bottles on the red carpet in an effort to have Fiji bottles photographed more prominently at the event. The Fiji water woman photobombed numerous photos, including ones with Dakato Fanning and Jim Carey. Judging by reactions on Twitter, the idea worked.

Don’t make a big splash unless you’re prepared for the outcome

You’ve probably heard it before. Making a big splash is a major attention grab for sharks. They mistake people splashing about for injured prey and that’s how shark attacks usually take place. In PR, it’s important to give your client guidance on when it’s a good idea to make a big splash. For example, having a client prematurely announce a product or deal at a trade show before things are 100% finalized or ready. Or making a big to-do at a show and then disappearing for months and expecting people to remember who you are. PR needs to be a continuous effort.

Teach your audience something new

One of the key goals and objectives of Shark Week is to educate people about the different species. They’re not blood thirsty like Steven Spielberg’s iconic shark film Jaws depicts them to be and that’s what Discovery has tried to do with the week-long event. According to an NBC News article, The Discovery Channel has helped raise millions of dollars for conservation. But as the summer event grows, so does the skepticism around it. Some experts feel that Shark Week is starting to focus too much on sensationalism rather than the science and facts. This year is the first time Shark Week will have its first fully scripted drama that’s based on a real incident. Sure, viewers may not be seeing a program filled with facts, but are they still learning something?

Similar in B2B PR with your clients, it’s important to find new and exciting ways to teach your audience something new about your client or its products. It will help keep the audience interested and may also attract a new audience. The same holds true for Shark Week. With its popularity and the global reach Discovery has, they’re more likely to attract a broader audience. The added dramatizations may not interest those who have been watching since the 90s, but they could attract a new younger generation. These newbies are the ones that are going to continue making Shark Week one of the most highly anticipated summer programming-events.

If you need help staying above water and want to discuss PR strategy (or sharks), contact Red Lorry Yellow Lorry at hello@rlyl.com or visit our contact page.

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