How to Keep Press Releases Fresh Day in Day Out: 6 PR Tips from Doctor WhoDoctor Who, much like Star Trek, is a perennial on the media landscape. The original series began in the 1960s and syndication, films, and a reboot continue to spotlight the series. Having a strong brand and diehard loyalty is as much a part of the franchise, as is the TARDIS. Like any perennial brand, Doctor Who waxes and wanes in popularity, but the series knows PR. Here, we break down some of those lessons.
Nowhere is brand loyalty, and it’s corollary, fandom, more on display than at San Diego’s Annual Comic-Con, which took place this past weekend. If you work in the television, film, or the comic book industry (or are maybe a voracious consumer of the aforementioned) you probably were there or at the very least, pressing refresh on your search bar.
The kind of brand loyalty on display at Comi-Con isn’t easy to come by. Keeping journalists and fans excited about our brands year after year (or in Doctor Who’s case, decade after decade) takes determination and creativity. Having a perennial hit like Doctor Who, known for originality and quirkiness, to play off of might make things easier, but for many of us it feels that we’re mired in telling our brand stories in exactly the same way as we did last time and not all that differently from how other companies are telling theirs. In Whovian parlance, the Daleks, old skool nemesis of Doctor Who, whose annoying and repetitive cries of “Exterminate! Exterminate!” give voice to our own creative frustrations as we continue running in circles.
Daleks with their cries of, “Exterminate! Exterminate!” have the most repetitive and boring lines of the Doctor Who universe.
After all, if you’re not amped about your PR campaign, how can you expect your audience to sit up and take notice?
At times like these, it’s helpful to take a step back to ask: How would Doctor Who break out of the usual brand story narrative?
- Get outside of your surroundings (to get outside of yourself). Doctor Who has a time machine in the form of a blue British police box, and when feeling listless, he’ll take off to a faraway planet and time to explore. At least that’s his intention. As PR pros, we can follow his example by changing up our surroundings. If you can, take some time out—even if that’s only 20 minutes—to walk around the block or grab some coffee at a nearby cafe. Anything to pull you out of your immediate environs. Sometimes a new location can help with fresh perspectives.
- Mix things up. The Doctor is known for consistently regenerating into another body (and as another actor, now on the show’s 12th). When this happens, the new Doctor changes up his moral and dress code, which informs his values, his choice of companions, and how he uses his sonic screwdriver, the interior of his TARDIS, and his catchphrase(s). Taking a page from this playbook, consider approaching your campaigns and press release from different points of view. Tell your brand story in a different way. Could you tell your story more visually, instead of with the traditional press release format to win your audience over? Can you draw from new data sets, or expand your referral base?
- Make sure you have the right tools. The Doctor has his trusty TARDIS and sonic screwdriver to help him solve most problems. In circumstances where things seem bleak, like in “Blink” as the Weeping Angels descend around Sally Sparrow and it looks like there is no way out, he can count on his tools to come through for him. In this case, the TARDIS suddenly appeared to save Sally from certain time erasure. The modern PR pro needs to have a trusty wire service and a media monitoring platform to rely on. Sometimes looking at trends in your industry or via a social listening platform can surface stories and interests that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to detect. That’s why you need to have alerts set and frequently scan your listening software.
- Partner when it makes sense. Offscreen, the Doctor mostly travels alone. As a time traveler from a faraway planet who has been alive for thousands of years, he invariably gets lonely. When he meets inquisitive and adventurous people that he feels a connection to, he’ll ask them to accompany him on adventures. As PR people, we can also seek out partners to share our burden. Coauthoring press releases show we’re engaged in our industry-at-large while reinforcing each partner’s respective thought leadership positions. We not only expand our reach by partnering but also broadcast an implied mutual trust. By this, our partnership makes it easier for new audiences to feel this same way.
- Keep on brand, but allow yourself to change and grow. Every reincarnation (or regeneration) of the Doctor has a uniform and catchphrase that acts as his stock brand. The leather jacket wearing 9th Doctor would never don a light sports coat and celery in his lapel in the vein of the 5th. And as far as catchphrases go, the 10th Doctor uses “Allons-y!” (French for “Let’s go!”), when racing to prevent the certain annihilation of modern day earth, unlike the 11th Doctor, who prefers, “Geronimo!” when in similar situations. Can your brand change and grow without alienating your core audience? Don’t forget old customers as you try to create value for new ones.
- Once you make the leap, be sure footed. When faced with a new challenge, sometimes the Doctor is uncertain of what tactic to take to solve overcome it. But once he makes up his mind, he stops hesitating. When you start down the path toward making your campaign happen, choose active words. If, for instance, you’re writing a press release, throw your message down and edit and re-edit. Remove any expression of doubt or uncertainty from your language, eliminate words like “just” or “might”. Don’t refer to the act of writing or reading (for example, “we’re writing you to let you know,” or “we thought you might be interested in reading about”). You’re speaking directly to your audience, feel the power of your message and they will too.
Doctor Who’s TARDIS in Cardiff, Wales
Being inspired by a time traveler from a faraway planet can help you get outside of your PR comfort zone, yielding engagement with an injection of creativity and newfound commitment. Allons-y!