How to do reactive PR in 2024

How to do reactive PR in 2024

Reactive PR is a game-changer for your strategic public relations efforts. Here's how to use it.

Public relations people like to think ahead. Events and campaigns are often scheduled months in advance because, hey, things take time. Good PR requires thoughtfulness, intentionality, and strategy.

Reactive PR is basically the opposite of that.

Let's talk about what it is, how to implement it, and why.

What is reactive PR?

In short, reactive PR is responding to the news instead of being the news. PR is all about newsworthiness, finding unique angles, and creating an interesting narrative to sell your client's story to the public. All these things are, and will continue to be, incredibly important for the average comms professional.

Proactive, strategic PR will always have its place. However, reactive PR allows you to reach audiences by being timely and relevant. This is an exceptionally good strategy for brands with a strong online presence.

Examples of reactive PR include:

  • A brand CEO writing a clever blog post about recent industry trends that calls out the BS
  • A TikTok series about a woman cleaning her house goes viral, and Scrub Daddy responds with a sponsorship offer
  • There's a major industry scandal, and industry subject matter experts weigh in

And then, there's always this:

The great thing about reactive PR is that it doesn't require weeks or months of planning, preparation, and implementation. It's a far more agile and quick strategy to get exposure and coverage. Unfortunately, the great things about it also make it tricky, which leads us to…

What makes reactive PR hard

Reactive PR can be great, but it definitely isn't easy. It takes time and resources for potentially no traction. You might spend hours each week being reactive, only to tepid response. It's also tough because:

1. The internet moves fast

Part of making a reactive strategy successful is constantly knowing what's going on. It seems easy, right? But it's not. There's nothing worse than hopping on a trend and finding out you're the last one to the party. The cool thing is no longer cool and you're left standing there, awkwardly.

A reactive strategy takes time to develop and implement correctly. You need to be aware of what's happening both in your industry and beyond, and constantly stay abreast of trends, memes, news, and drama.

2. Things take time to get approved

Even if you do happen to constantly know what's going on in the industry and can create awesome reactive responses and content, your clients may want to go through a thorough approval process to make sure the reactive PR is consistent with their brand ideology, C-suites need to give input, legal wants to take a gander, etc.

Yeah, it's exhausting. Reactive opportunities can come and go before you even have time to log into X and draft your killer tweet.

3. Fast decisions lead to mistakes

Even if you can somehow successfully streamline the review and approval process, reactive PR can lead to mistakes. For example, a recent TikTokker went viral when she detailed the story of her ex-husband in a 51-part, 8-hour series titled "Who the F-— Did I Marry?" At one point in her saga, she talks about her dream of buying a BMW. After millions of views on her story, BMW seemed to get in the mix and (seemingly, confusingly, potentially) promised to get her a car.

… But actually, they didn't. They were having fun and making memes. And people got mad.

Website preview
BMW Blasted for Seemingly Going Back on Their Promise to Gift ‘Who TF Did I Marry’ TikToker Reesa Teesa Her Dream Car
BMW has some explaining to do after seemingly piggybacking on the virality of content creator Reesa Teesa’s 50-part “Who TF Did I Marry?” series as part
Atlanta Black Star

In hindsight, it's clear why people became angry, and maybe the BMW team shouldn't have played so fast and loose with their responses. But these kinds of mistakes are inevitable if you're not careful with your reactive strategy.

How to do reactive PR

So, if you're feeling brave and want to try out some reactive PR, here are some tips to make it happen.

Troll social media constantly

This is a tough one, especially for those of us who absolutely hate social media (and it can even be challenging sometimes for those who love it). Unfortunately, good reactivity requires knowing what's happening and what the people are talking about. This often means having and maintaining a decent social media presence, whether you want to or not.

Sign up for reactive PR services

There are a slew of PR services aimed directly at connecting subject matter experts with journalists. Journalists often want hot takes on the biggest stories of the day from people who know what they're talking about. You can use these platforms to share your clients' insights and get their names out there. The biggest one is Connectively (formerly HARO), but there are plenty of great and growing alternatives.

The 8 best Connectively (HARO) alternatives for connecting with journalists & sources
The 8 best Connectively (HARO) alternatives for connecting with journalists & sources

Find the right people for your brand or media outlet using these growing HARO alternatives, according to the experts

Share your expertise

Modern discourse is all about narratives and counter-narratives. Do you have a fascinating take on a hot topic? Do you want to push back against the status quo? Giving your perspective as a bonafide subject matter expert is a great way to be reactive and challenge the industry in interesting ways.

Be flexible

Good reactive PR requires a certain level of flexibility that many PR and comms teams are not prepared for. Often, it requires acting fast, making quick decisions, and getting initiatives approved quickly.

Go forth and get reactive (PR)

A lot of reactive PR involves trying different things and seeing what works. Unlike more strategic and thoughtful proactive campaigns, reactive PR requires engaging in clever and meaningful ways on the fly. Try various things, see what works, and have a little fun with it.

If you're looking for an amazing tool to help you save time so you can focus on crafting clever Twitter clapbacks, check out Prezly. It's an all-in-one PR software for busy agencies, teams, and solopreneurs. And you can even try it for free (no cc required)! 👇

Prezly – software for modern PR teams

  • Write & publish brand stories in an online newsroom

  • Send email campaigns, pitches & newsletters

  • Manage all your contact lists in a single CRM, with easy import & export

  • Measure performance to see who's engaging with your stories

Published 22 March 2024

Join 500+ PR teams already loving Prezly

Take the stress out of contact management and distribution with a dedicated outreach CRM that your whole team can use.

Made with