To share or not to share

By Lesley Brydon, Managing Director

When we are creating business content for clients that relates to past performance or, in other words, reporting results, one of the most common discussion areas is the inclusion of detail. It’s an age-old dance, with PR’s bemoaning ‘too little’ and clients concerned about ‘too much’.

The discussion invariably comes down to whether or not to include financial information about the business. Granted, that’s not the sort of information you want to include in all media content, but when it comes to results or performance, pitching a story without numbers and expecting coverage is akin to pushing water up a hill.

While there are myriad reasons that a business would want to leave that information out, often it’s because they are keen to shout about the qualitative successes of the business, but including talk of money in that celebratory moment somehow feels a bit boastful.

Unfortunately, for the business pages, omission of financials is often a real stumbling block, and can be the hard line in deciding whether a story makes it to publication, or not. Don’t just take it from me – we asked a couple of Scotland’s leading business writers for their views:

“Numbers give a story substance, and percentages are meaningless without quantification – particularly around revenue/profit/headcount. We are extremely reluctant to run stories where numbers aren’t provided.”

“In a busy week, financials would have helped the story make the cut.”

We work with clients to get their content into the best shape possible to achieve a decent airing, and we live for the results! So, our opening advice would always be to including some sort of financial information to make the story as strong as possible. Many media outlets have room for just a few stories a day, so making sure your story is as strong as it can be is paramount. That also includes finding points of difference, thoughts on the future of the business, and creating some standout highlights from the year’s performance. Furthermore, great images, video, audio, or exclusive content can provide an additional edge. But, without the basics the rest is pointless.

Of course, there are ways of including financials that can soften the impact of any troublesome business areas. A wise agency will work with a client to create something that a) the client is comfortable with and b) will satisfy the needs of even the most stringent business editor. For it is essential both needs are met.

I’ll leave you with this… when Usain Bolt ran a 9.69 second 100m, setting the world record – would you conceive of a press report where his time isn’t mentioned? Of course, not – it’s the main measure of his successful performance.

The media is in the business of quantifying claims of greatness, and we’re in the business of shining a light on our client’s successes. Our job is to make those two desires come together. Most often we can find a way to keep everyone happy, but boundaries and comfort zones sometimes need to be nudged, to get the best results for both parties.