When it comes to talking about your business and its role within the wider sector, most messages can be boiled down into one of two categories: positive or negative. Both have their advantages when it comes to targeting external marketing efforts and securing media coverage.

how to target your newsMost successful communications campaigns combine both positive and negative messages, and choosing when and where to make use of each is a key strategic consideration.

We’ll start with the bad news.

From a media relations perspective, negative messaging often proves to be one of the most effective ways of grabbing the interest of news editors. It’s perhaps a sad truth, but provocative articles that prey on the fears of the industry are often the most well read.


Looking at the renewable energy sector, the stories that commonly make the headlines are framed in negative terms. By way of an example, take a look at the recent piece on cost reduction in offshore wind by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor at the Telegraph.


The headline reads: “Cut-throat competition is slashing offshore wind costs to unthinkable levels”.


Admittedly, the Telegraph has a mixed track record when it comes to covering renewables, but it’s still worth observing how an ostensibly positive development –that is, the falling levelized cost of offshore wind – is framed in terms of its negative impacts. Indeed, the second line asserts that “it is suddenly becoming too beguilingly cheap”.


While it may seem counterintuitive to be seen commenting in negative terms on the state of the market, the firms quoted in the article have taken the opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership, by raising awareness of a number of potential industry challenges.


Taking this one step further, positioning your business or service as the answer to a growing challenge can be an extremely effective communications strategy. Ultimately, the bad news provides a vehicle for the good news.


What’s more, factoring a sector challenge into a press release simultaneously demonstrates knowledge of your market to potential clients and adds colour to the story for a journalist.


On the other hand, a barrage of negative stories can become tiresome – and the timing and frequency of more negative angles should be carefully considered in order to avoid developing a reputation for ‘ ambulance chasing,’ or being the one business that is always seen to complain.


The value of telling the good news cannot be underestimated.

As a rule, we would suggest that, while negative messaging can achieve high-profile results from a media relations perspective, when it comes to marketing copy, the focus should be more or less exclusively on the positives that your services deliver.


By the time a client or prospect has made the active decision to visit your website or pick up your brochure, they will already have an idea of what they want from you, and why. At this stage, your messaging should firmly outline the long-term commercial benefits and return on investment that can be achieved by using your product or services.


Take the opportunity to showcase the successes of your business by means of client case studies that illustrate how you have helped similar firms to realise their objectives. And, if appropriate, share these successes with the media via regular deal and contract win announcements that illustrate why you are the go-to firm in the sector.