The term ‘positive affirmation’ is everywhere at the moment. And I’m here for it. Positive affirmations are usually used in our personal lives to help us visualise situations and achievements; whether it be giving ourselves a pep talk before a big day, said in the mirror to boost our confidence, or even repeated over and over as you fall asleep, they are really having their time in the sun, helping to improve people’s wellbeing and give them a sense of positivity at a time when they need it the most. But did you know you can also use them in the workplace? And if you work in PR, they can help you secure that all important coverage for your clients or brand.
What are positive affirmations?
We’ll start with the basics; positive affirmations are essentially thoughts. Powerful thoughts. Positive affirmations help you to foster the belief that a positive mental attitude which is supported by affirmations will help you to achieve success – in anything and everything you do. And when they are repeated regularly, you start to believe in them. This results in helping you to make positive changes in your life. Essentially, positive affirmations are based on the law of attraction. And they’re not just for the spiritual of you. Google searches for positive affirmations has been at an all-time high over the last 12 months, with searches such as ‘positive affirmations to say every day’ and ‘positive affirmations for self-worth’ being breakout trends.
So how can they help you get press coverage?
Well positive affirmations are actually nothing new to the world of PR – we just don’t necessarily know it. Think about it this way, when coming up with a campaign, a concept, or even when weighing in on new products, we’ve all been told to think headline first. And rightly so.
When we use positive affirmations in our personal lives, we visualise exactly what we want. Whether it be to draw upon confidence, power, creativity, organisation, charisma, or anything else we want or need to achieve our goals. And when we deconstruct what we’ve been doing in PR, we’ve been using this exact tactic for years.
In order to gain coverage and build links, by taking a headline first approach we’ve been unconsciously creating a positive mindset by envisaging what we want from the get-go. So when we eventually send out the press release or pitch, we’re already picturing exactly what we want to achieve, down to the granular details of what the story looks like on sites, and even who covers it.
If I was creating a campaign about women in finance for example, I’d think of all the potential headlines I wanted to get out of it first. So ‘Just X% of women work in finance roles’, ‘COMPANY launches initiative to help get women into finance’, or ‘X% of women haven’t been told how to do X’, and so on. During this time, I’d also be thinking about where those headlines could sit. “What female and even male interest sites are likely to run a story like this and how do they write? Will B2B business publications write about this, and what angle will they lead with? Is this perfect for nationals? If so, which and what’s likely to get their attention? Is there a regional angle we can use around the country or even the world?” And so on. And in doing this, I’ve, perhaps unintentionally, been using positive affirmations without knowing it.
How is this even more relevant now?
Over the last 12 months, the world of PR has changed dramatically – even for those businesses who don’t operate in one of the affected sectors. When the lockdown was announced in March 2020, long-term PR plans essentially went out the window. No longer could we talk about our normal life, so travel, bottomless brunch, commutes, and heels became a thing of the past, and were replaced with the same four walls, Zoom calls, makeshift desks and trackie bottoms. As such, people working in PR, marketing, advertising, events, and any other industry that relied on ‘normal life’ to function, paused plans overnight in a bid to assess what would happen.
What followed was a few weeks of chaos, but eventually we found our way, navigating the pandemic press to offer mostly light relief for people who really craved a sense of normality or wanderlust. However in doing this, the need to pivot quickly and be fast to respond to changes was imperative – and of course still is. And that’s why reactive PR has become what it is now; a powerhouse in the industry that gets coverage in almost every industry – crucially – as it happens.
Taking one of the most popular good news stories of the last 6 months around the stamp duty holiday ending as an example, in order to jump on this story with a reactive piece on how much buyers look to save or how much more sellers can add onto their house value, demands an affirmation-esque, headline first approach more than any others due to the time sensitivity of the piece. This means you have to narrow down the purpose of your story to just one or two key points to make it newsworthy.
Of course this tactic is important for long tail campaigns, too. When you’re ideating you should always ask yourself what you want to attain, and of course what the key points which make it headline-worthy are.
The ability to think headline first when it comes to PR is the only way (in my opinion) you are guaranteed to get the coverage you want. So practicing positive affirmations and visualising the coverage you want, where, and by who, is the only way to succeed.
You can of course go one step further; as you’re typing out your outreach list, thank the universe for the coverage. It may sounds strange if you’ve not done it before, but I did it recently with a campaign and secured reams of media placements. Whether or not the two were related remains to be seen, but it can’t hurt!
Thinking headline first does take skill. It is of course something you can learn, but it’s not something many of us land on first when we start out in the industry. We often get carried away with huge plans that we can envisage being in the midst of, but to think headline first, you must work backwards from the very end, not somewhere in the middle.