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What is the difference between proactive and reactive PR?

Posted by JournoLink in Business Tips on 23 March 2017 at 14:15


Public Relations can be separated into two approaches, proactive and reactive. Traditionally PR was reactive i.e. crisis management. More recently businesses have been using proactive PR to gain and create positive media coverage. 

In small businesses, it is important to consider and plan both proactive and reactive PR. Below we’ve created some points to consider.


Proactive PR

When creating your DIY PR plan as a small business it should be centred on a proactive approach, seeking opportunities and actively promoting your brand to your target audience.

Firstly, create content and stories that promote your brand, products and company in a positive light. Use engaging case studies, quotes and stories to attract your target audience and show them who you are and what you do.

Secondly, consider timing. When is best to release your content in order to ensure the best pick up. Whether this includes developments within the business itself, such as a new partnership or investment, or whether you piggyback off key news events, create a PR content calendar to track the right time to send your release.

Thirdly, look for comment and interview opportunities on social media and online PR platforms. Offer yourself as an expert in your field, positioning yourself and your brand as trustworthy and credible.

By doing this you can create an overall positive brand image.

However, it is also important to consider reactive PR, preparing how to respond to negative reports and counteract bad press.


Reactive PR

Three things to have in mind when preparing your reactive PR plan are your audience, brand and having a clear point.

Firstly, who is your audience and what would they expect you to say?  The skill is ‘talking’ to them in their language, with a message that they understand and will accept as reasonable. It is much better to acknowledge a shortcoming and say sorry than it is to avoid taking responsibility.

Secondly, think about your brand and what it stands for. By all means, say sorry, but also take the opportunity of reminding your audience that your brand cares, and make sure you are clear in what it does.

Thirdly, stick to the point. Especially when something has gone wrong, journalists will try to extract quotes from you that will add fuel to their story. Don’t let them put words into your mouth, and don’t let them take you into topics that are not relevant, or that you simply don’t want to talk about.

From considering the above you will be prepared with what you want to say, be able to anticipate the questions you don’t want to be asked and have ‘close down’ answers ready.


By creating both proactive and reactive PR plans you will be able to keep on top of your brand image and promoting your business in the best light.

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Written By: Camilla Holroyd, Media Relations Executive

Camilla is the all-important portal between JournoLink's businesses and journalists; connecting them on a daily basis through press releases, Twitter engagements and editorial requests.


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