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Don’t lead with paid media coverage

By Marjorie Comer

Our recommendations to make paid media your last resort

Dollar signCompanies sometimes get caught in a cycle of utilizing paid opportunities because they don’t fully understand what public relations is and how to use the power of PR to earn media coverage. Some outlets will even tell companies that if they advertise, the outlet will write more about the company. This isn’t right. In fact, your company should make paid media its last resort.

According to No. 11 on Axia Public Relations’ list of 15 insider tips for earning media coverage for your company, if your company has news that’s newsworthy, you shouldn’t lead with an advertisement.

Lead with PR

We recommend leading with PR (and earned media), where we pitch and persuade journalists at target outlets to run the news for free first. It’s important to understand that once your news appears in an outlet – earned or paid, briefed or featured – it’s unlikely the outlet will cover the news again. This is why it’s so important to start with editorial and earned media opportunities, rather than the advertorial opportunities.

  • Pitch editorial contacts. Don’t pitch account executives; they will lead you straight to the road of advertising.
  • Share company news: new hires, promotions, corporate social responsibility, award recognition, and more.
  • Follow up with those contacts; one follow-up with an editorial contact isn’t enough.

In our experience, we might persuade the outlet to place a post unpaid – even when most are paid – with the right pitch (although it’s rare). Our initial efforts are always focused on pitching features and then settling for briefs.

Exhaust your efforts

Once we’ve exhausted our editorial PR efforts, we explore the paid opportunities, including advertising or advertorial, if needed. If your company opts to buy advertisements first, many outlets will decide not to write an actual story (feature, news brief) about your company’s news because it already appeared (thanks to your pocketbook).

One of the negatives of advertisements is that people, including your target audience, tend to gloss over ads, whereas, when they read a news article or feature story that includes your company or a quote from an executive, they see a thought-leader.

Don’t fall into the trap of gaining media coverage by paying for the mention of your company’s name in print. The fees continue to add up and your company isn’t gaining truly positive stories. And, in our opinion, paid media shouldn’t be part of a PR firm’s program. Be sure you’re aware of how journalists communicate in order to secure earned media coverage for your company. If you aren’t sure how best to do this, download our e-book on learning media relations from the media today.

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marjorie-comer-portraitClients love Marjorie’s work ethic, speed, and diligence. She has worked with Axia Public Relations since October 2011. Marjorie graduated from Rockhurst University with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and loves to cheer for her hometown Kansas City Royals. Learn more about Marjorie.


 Featured image credit: 123rf.com 

Topics: media relations, earned media

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