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Getting PR Coverage during COVID Means Pitching in all CAPS



Patrick McCaully POINTMAN

We talked to Patrick McCaully, director of international media domination at Pointman News Creation, about effective PR strategies, and this is what he said about it.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Patrick McCaully: We’re all good, maybe a little bored but healthy and safe.

Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Pointman News Creation.

Patrick McCaully: PNC was founded in 2001 after a stint working with a boutique PR firm in Toronto. This followed my 8 years working in broadcasting at 3 of Canada’s four national tv networks in editorial positions. Basically, I knew we could bring a better, more editorial approach to PR and secure major coverage for our clients by thinking like journalists.

How does Pointman News Creation innovate? 

Patrick McCaully: By ALWAYS having the best pr idea. It’s not about contacts, and it’s not about who you go for martini lunches with; it’s about having the best idea for a media story. Really, no one is going to do a story because they like you (particularly during COVID) its a meritocracy, and we innovate with truly creative PR campaigns every time we send out a pitch (and I’m happy to prove that with coverage reports.)

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?

Patrick McCaully: Strangely, we had a slightly better year than 2019 in 2020. The major difference is that it’s all project work, so there’s very little predictable income or workflow. I’ve been really busy since COVID broke out, though. I keep hearing that people are slowing down and learning how to bake bread or blow glass, but it’s all pedal to the metal here.

Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?

Patrick McCaully: Luckily, we had moved to a virtual agency model with freelancers being brought in when needed before COVID. We did have to give up our office where we had been for over 10 years though, it seemed like a tough choice at the time, but it’s really been a positive move and, if anything, has increased productivity.

How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?

Patrick McCaully: I think like everyone during COVID, we’ve just been rolling with it and understanding that many of our customers are having difficulty in a lot of ways. We’re more open to shorter engagements than we would have been before COVID. Meltwater and Critical Mention have both kept us effectively tracking coverage and reporting coverage to clients.

Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?

Patrick McCaully: We have. I think for the first time in my life, I feel like our government is really looking out for us in a tangible way. Trudeau gets a lot of criticism, but on the COVID crisis (not including vaccine rollout), I think he’s done a good job, and I wouldn’t want anyone else in charge.

Your final thoughts?

Patrick McCaully: I think for the PR industry, this is a real watershed moment. The huge agencies can’t continue with the lack of income and staffing costs, so it’s a really interesting time to be Independent. I also think that results matter more than ever. No one has the budget to hire an agency that can’t immediately deliver, and the cream is rising to the top or being cast aside. I also think we’ll have a marketing explosion when companies think the COVID crisis is behind us, and they need to let consumers know that they are still doing business. I’m looking forward to that.

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