by Tabitha Steemson
As we reach the twelfth day of Cop26 in Glasgow, this morning saw a major breakthrough with the first draft of a climate change agreement being published. With opinions on the outcomes of the conference appearing across the press and social media, it allows us to take a brief period of reflection on how many businesses, journalists and other opinion formers have been fighting to have their voices heard throughout the event.
Having successfully helped a number of our clients gain coverage throughout the conference, here are a few lessons we’ve learnt about making meaningful commentary land among a sea of pitches.
1. Pick your battles:
During an event as large as COP, it’s easy to want to comment on everything. The media is running stories on every element of the conference, from high-level diplomatic discussions to the food served in the conference hall. Although it’s tempting to opine on every headline, it’s important to be selective. No one commentator can be an expert on all these issues. Commentary over an event should be cohesive: jumping from issue to issue only reduces trust in your expertise.
2. Say something interesting:
Having decided what to talk about, the hardest part is still to come: deciding what to say. Although obvious, there’s no overstating the importance of expressing an opinion – simply re-hashing events or statistics is not going to cut it. Opinion doesn’t have to be political, or even necessarily contrary (although it might help). Use your expertise and experience to say something new, or create links that those without such knowledge wouldn’t be able to make. The press know the facts and stats, the role of an expert is to help explain what they mean, and how they will affect certain sectors.
A well-crafted, interesting comment on a relevant issue is worthless if it doesn’t get seen. Think about a journalist’s schedule: a live reporter won’t be checking their work email whilst listening to a world leader announce new policy. Thinking outside the box here is essential. We created a Twitter account following journalists who were up in Glasgow, to track topics and stories they’re covering, for example. Leveraging your own social media is also key. If you have a comment, be sure to make use of your owned channels – you can always flag tweets to reporters once they are posted. When the press is busy, using unconventional methods is often the key to gaining coverage.
Whenever an important event comes around, whether it be a UN conference or a government announcement, planning a strategy beforehand is essential. Although you need to be able to think quickly and reactively, having the right plan in hand makes the process much smoother. Working strategically and creatively will set you apart, and ensure that what you have to say gets seen.