When a CEO departs unexpectedly, it’s probably breaking news, and a crisis-communications effort is needed. When a CEO departs in a planned succession, the news may still be big, but here there’s much more opportunity to help shape the story. In both cases, the news itself creates an opportunity (or necessity) to say something important about the company. For better or worse, you will have reporters’ attention.
But what about the far other end of the spectrum—routine news about new hires and promotions? Here, companies might wish to have the media’s attention, but a news release about a newly minted junior VP isn’t going to set journalists’ pulses quivering. Still, routine personnel news is usually good news. Here are some ideas for making the most of it.
- Find an angle. Even if the hire or promotion is not very senior, it is more likely to get noticed by the media if you can provide some sort of “hook.” Is the new marketing director tasked with targeting a new distribution channel? The new compliance VP being brought in to focus on a new regulatory regime? The new trader an expert in options to support your new covered call strategy?
- Be ready to explain a replacement. Good journalists are trained to ask “Why?” Why did you add another person to the payroll? The answer may be contained in the new initiative described in your “angle.” Even if you don’t expect to get any queries from journalists on an announcement you consider routine, you don’t want a positive to turn into a negative: If the person you hired is a replacement for someone you let go, you may be asked the question directly and need to have an answer ready.
- Post an inexpensive news release to a web service. Some of the news-releases services around the web provide a valuable (and cheap) service—not so much in distribution as in simply hosting a news release on their own sites. Google News may “see” the release as news for a brief time, but that’s not the focus here.Rather, the potential benefit comes later on, in search results about your company apart from current news. For example, say you’ve hired a new financial advisor, Jane Doe. Say a prospective client of hers does a search for “Jane Doe XYZ Company” six months from now. The news release posted at the web service may well come up in those search results. The same may be true about the release as posted on your own website, but in this specific situation, the prospective client’s experience in that moment may benefit from additional search results.
Also, posting at a web news service may help feed social media results. For example, LinkedIn’s “Mentioned In the News” feature may pick up a person mentioned in a release and link to the release on the web service’s site.
- Submit locally. There are fewer non-paid “People In the News” columns these days, but some remain, both print and online. Find them in the relevant city and be sure to submit with a photo. Consider paid local placements, too. In our experience, these types of local “movers” features really do get seen, and the cost relative to a traditional ad is likely to be small. Usually, these types of submissions are made online via form-field entry. When you’re filling in the field for the person’s duties—or whichever is the primary driver of the caption—take care to ensure the message reinforces key messages about the company as a whole.
- Submit to trades. Also target “movers” columns at relevant trade publications, many of which do not charge for postings. Here, the audience and purpose is a different: if you’re announcing the hiring of a financial advisor to an audience of financial advisors, then the purpose is more likely to support the image of the firm among prospective new hires than to generate leads directly. However, keep in mind that many trade publications are recognizable brands—known and respected even among those outside a specific industry—that could still help you in reaching your actual audience, as you leverage a mention in a trade publication on your website, in e-newsletters or on social media.
- Introduce locally. A local reporter may not cover the appointment of a portfolio manager or senior vice president, but he or she is likely to welcome a note or call to share the news and suggest the person as a source for future stories. Offer specific topics the person can speak to. In other words, use the contact with the reporter as an opportunity to touch base in a way that goes beyond the “news” of this moment in order to develop future interview opportunities.
- Share on social channels. News releases posted to your website can serve as useful background for social media posts about new hires and promotions. It’s likely the social post itself is the main channel for disseminating the news, yet a release in the background creates an air of authority that, even in the more casual context of social, can help create the right tone about an important new hire.
Be sure to look ahead, too. For example, after announcing a new-hire expert on a particular topic, go back to reporters in the coming months to share insights on newsworthy topics. By integrating personnel announcements within a larger strategy—covering media, content, social media and marketing efforts—you can elevate their usefulness beyond simply “routine.”