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News doesn't need to be real

No one argues more than us that PR must be about real things.

There is an exception: plans for the future are also newsworthy.

Many organisations refuse to publicise plans because nothing concrete has yet come of them. But a company most admired for its PR, Air New Zealand, regularly makes news for not much at all.

Take the airline’s much promoted hydrogen-electric vision for domestic air travel. The putative start date is 2030, and it’s mainly words and futuristic drawings at this point. But it feels like action, and moreover, action to bring about an optimistic picture of the future, which is a place we’d all rather be right now.

Planning has to happen to make things real. What’s remarkable is that Air New Zealand is happy to talk about planning, constantly, and as if it is action.

In February, it announced its ‘partnership’ with Universal Hydrogen, Embraer and Heart Aerospace, adding them to a ‘zero-emissions plane group’. It’s a talking group, but it feels like action.

This month it announced it was seeking two regional airports to host trials of the technology. What will power these planes won’t be announced until next year, but this step feels part of the action.

You don’t need everything ironed out or built to get a good story. News power can be created by relentlessly publicising every step of an optimistic process. Trivial actions add up to a big project.

Bringing media and stakeholders along on the optimistic journey makes the plan interesting, the company more admirable for its efforts, and everything about it harder to criticise.

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