A colossal marketing budget is clearly a factor that makes a company brand ubiquitous but it’s not always a prerequisite. It also helps if you have an outspoken, maverick chief executive as both Ryanair or Pimlico Plumbers do. At a personal level, another tactic is to present yourself (and by extension your company) as the counterpoint to what most others are saying on a trending topic – journalists usually welcome contrarian views and aim to keep stories balanced.
It gets even more interesting when you can identify an issue that people are writing about regularly and offer yourself up as the archetype, an exemplar. Which leads me to my best piece of advice for companies: appoint more women to your executive team. Bear with me a moment and I’ll explain.
Hardly a day has gone by since the 2011 Davies report without somebody writing about the subject of women on boards. You may have seen the European Union’s report on the same theme late last year. And now The German government’s upper house, The Bundersrat, has backed minimum quota plans for German companies, following in the steps of Italy, Belgium and France. In the UK, this is an issue that has pitched the corporate lobby into direct conflict with the coalition’s business secretary Vince Cable.
So here we have what any journalist would recognise as a story ‘with legs’. The opportunity up for grabs is for one company to latch on to it and show how it’s leading the pack on this; with more women than men on its executive board. The company that can do this, while also being media-friendly, will quickly become ubiquitous. It may also find it can attract and retain better talent, be more innovative and outperform competitors. But doing it just for the acres of free, positive publicity would be reason enough. So there you have it: my best PR advice – and what’s more, entirely free!