Captain Tom: Prominent supports Bedford School's comms team

Capt Tom 6

You already have a communications team - and they handle all your marketing and PR needs. So why would you consider getting help from an external agency? Here our editorial director Ellen Widdup gives you the perfect example of when collaboration with experts outside your usual team can really pay off.

 

PR agencies can work as a completely outsourced communications team for your business - handling all your media requests, writing all our press releases and liaising with journalists on your behalf. But they can also act as an extension to your in-house team.

And there are huge benefits to this way of working.

Firstly, a company or organisation can tap into expertise that their day-to-day team might not already bring to the table - in terms of national press contacts, specific skills, social media expertise or campaign brainstorming.

Secondly, it can drastically reduce costs - allowing a business to only call on their external provider at times when the workload gets overwhelming for their nuclear team.

The perfect example of this was our recent work with Bedford School.

Tell me more

Prominent has worked alongside the Bedford School marketing team for a long time – offering them support when their four-man department were stretched and giving them some extra help during their busier school periods and bigger stories.

However, without a doubt the biggest of these happened when pupil Benjie Ingram-Moore suggested to his 99-year-old grandfather Tom that he complete 100 laps of his garden by his 100th birthday – raising as much money as he could for the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

Not only did we support the school to publicise this incredible feat – which captured the hearts of millions at home and abroad, led to Captain Tom being elevated to Colonel Tom and a whopping £30 million (and counting) raised for our health service.

But we were also asked to provide the back up to Captain Tom’s 100th birthday celebrations during which Bedford School played a major role.

Birthday bash

Our role in this began when Bedford School stepped in to offer its school hall as a sorting office to the local post office as it started to receive an influx of mail from well-wishers.

We were to support the school in what was to become one of the biggest stories they have ever had to manage and provide expert advice on handling the media where required.

Our aim was to make the most of the opportunity to get exposure for Bedford School. However, it was important the school did not look like it was detracting from Colonel Tom’s exposure. We wanted the school to provide the backdrop to the hero of the hour.

Our strategy was to act as facilitator to the local, national and international press, to manage messaging from the school that supported that of the family and to maximise exposure.

We also needed to manage all the administrative side of dealing with multiple media requests so the Bedford School communications team could be on the ground at the school with the media and the family.

You can read more about our involvement here.

Boost your team

Whenever we work with an established communications team, we want to be regarded as part of their  internal workforce rather than an external agency.

This is not about stepping on toes. We are there to bolster operations, fill in gaps, bring something extra to their skillset or simply to act as a sounding board.

It can be overwhelming to be thrust into the limelight when your day-to-day operations don't usually consist of anything warranting national - or international - media attention.

And agencies like ours - with a variety of clients in a whole host of sectors - are more able to flex accordingly to handle breaking - and in this case breathtaking - news events.

We aim to take a fantastic idea and catapult it into the Goliath you know it can be.

And we can do that because our team is larger than some of these in-house operations. This means that for far less than it would cost you to employ more team members, we can give you a boost with immediate hands to the deck.

On top of this, our team have a very good knowledge of the PR landscape and some incredible contacts that are unlocked as soon as collaboration begins.

What to expect

Bringing in a PR agency to bolster your PR provision might seem a bit daunting - are they going to take over? Will they get in your way? How will you delegate? 

But this can be an opportunity for you to review your staff skills and work out what areas need a lift.

To take one example: you can be sure that if your social media accounts look unloved then a prospective customer will be put off from buying your product. If these key areas are not your forte, we can step in and manage them for you

Here's another: maybe you are used to dealing with your local press but suddenly you have to talk to national media and it's filling you with horror. This is where we can manage the load because we do it daily and already have links to friendly faces we can rely on.

And one more: Perhaps you are swimming along nicely when something catastrophic happens that threatens to rock the entire business if it isn't handled correctly. We have plenty of examples of when we have been brought in to deliver crisis communications messaging designed to protect a business reputation from a media storm. In fact, this is an area where we really shine simply because we have ex journalists on board who have worked both sides of the fence.

Get talking

So, if you're an in-house team and considering working with an agency, we would advise you to give us a call. We are an incredible friendly group with a vast range of skills which could help you temporarily (or permanently) fill gaps in your comms department without the need to employ.

 

 

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