Cultivating connections, quick-thinking and cracking coverage

CIPR Wessex Representative Darren Northeast, founder and managing director of Darren Northeast PR in Bournemouth, shares the story of how his firm landed national coverage across BBC platforms when they featured in a news item about intergenerational working.

Coverage across the BBC – online, television, radio – with audiences in the millions, along with hundreds and thousands of views and thousands of reactions comments and shares across social media. It’s the stuff public relations dreams are made of and would represent a major win for any client – but in this case the spotlight was shining on us.

The DNPR team was featured in a news item by the BBC’s business reporter Dougal Shaw. With the theme ‘crossing divides’ it focussed on rising stars in the modern workplace who are taking on responsibilities and managing teams which include colleagues considerably older than themselves.

Our operations manager Theo Meddelton was the ideal subject. I hired him when he was just 19 because of his strong digital PR background, but I quickly recognised his management potential and at the beginning of this year I promoted him to the role of operations manager. At just 20 he took on the day-to-day management of the team, which includes members in their 50s and 60s.

I have always believed in developing young talent, so I was really happy to work with the BBC on this story. This sort of exposure is fantastic for the business, and it highlights the integral role that Theo has here, as well shining a spotlight on the other members of the team, especially Charlie Rose who featured prominently in the story alongside Theo.

She was understandably a bit nervous about being featured in a piece highlighting the fact that her manager is younger than her youngest son. But she and Theo have a great working relationship and I think that really came across – they both learn from each other to deliver the best for our clients.

When it hit at the end of February the story appeared across BBC online, both as a video interview and written piece, featured across three different BBC radio stations and was televised on the BBC News Channel, BBC World Service and local BBC news.

Not only that but engagement levels were high as the social media figures attest; there were 180,000 views, 3,000 likes and 189 comments on the BBC’s LinkedIn account, 1,000 reactions and 272 comments on Facebook, 600,000 views and 650 comments on Instagram and 35,00 views, 87 likes, 35 retweets and 26 comments on the BBC Twitter account.

While the coverage was extraordinary, actually the means of securing it was just good old-fashioned PR work – cultivating contacts, seizing opportunities, working angles, accommodating journalists, and covering all the bases to ensure the things went smoothly.

Theo Meddelton explains: “We’re always on the lookout for opportunities such as this for our clients, and we make it our business to keep in touch with journalists and stay abreast of their areas of interest and the stories their covering – but unusually on this particular occasion it was actually us who fit the bill!

“So often with media outlets, especially news media, timing is everything, so I was quick to make contact with Dougal and invite him down to our offices in Bournemouth. We were able to settle on the nature of the story, and made sure we could accommodate everything he needed on the day, so he came away with some great material which worked across multiple media.

“But the full extent of the coverage came as a bit of a surprise it has to be said – it went everywhere! The response from our clients and contacts has been fantastic too – it’s been widely seen and we’ve had very positive feedback.”

It is not the first time that Darren Northeast PR has been featured in the news, and I hope it won’t be the last. But for now our team, which includes Non-Executive Director Philip Dewhurst FCIPR, a Past President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, and David Dwamena, student committee member for the CIPR Wessex Region, remains far more intent on grabbing headlines for their clients than for ourselves!

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