Rethink media relations’ role in your communication strategy
Earning media coverage for your company is more difficult than ever. Newsrooms are smaller and journalists cover multiple beats and report for multiple platforms. Additionally, there are more opportunities for advertising. It’s time to rethink media relations and understand its role in your overall communication strategy.
Use news, social, and web media channels
News media (or earned media) is just one tool in a public relations strategist’s toolbox. Social and web media are other communication channels you should use to tell your company’s message. Adding social media and website content creation to your PR campaign will minimize your company’s dependence on earned media coverage.
Successful agencies and marketing departments have a multiplatform storytelling method that uses news, social, and web channels. Social media forums and groups are a great way to reach an audience that has similar needs and interests. Ensure your content is relevant and platform-specific.
Get your story out with other methods, such as self-publishing articles on:
- Your company’s blog
- Your CEO’s blog
- Guest posts on other relevant blogs
- LinkedIn groups
- Quora responses
- Podcast guests
- Submitted articles
Companies that communicate business to business (B2B) to sell their products or services have a particularly difficult time earning media coverage. B2B companies need to bring value to news stories by providing unique insights and industry factoids. Often, reporters and media outlets specifically state, “No vendor participants,” to keep content value-driven, not sales-driven. To combat this, we recommend finding ways to help reporters identify trends, market predictions, and provide a “what’s next” angle.
Review the 10 elements of newsworthiness to identify the key elements in your company’s news that are important to reporters. Through experience, we know a good story needs two or more of these 10 elements in order to earn coverage. It’s about aligning your story to the news elements and news topics and trends of the day – not what you want to discuss.
“Pay-to-play” opportunities are more common than ever. Editorial content that was previously free is now sponsored content with a price tag. Media outlets and industry publications plan out editorial calendars with specific topics and themes for each issue. Axia Public Relations has coordinated earned media coverage around editorial content since it started in 2002. More and more we see opportunities for free coverage becoming sponsored. “Top lists” are now often paid opportunities, when they were previously based on authentic and objective data.
Media outlets are using editorial topics, expert columns, and top lists as additional advertising revenue streams. One way to participate in these is to set an advertorial budget and select paid opportunities from your target media outlet list to participate in each year. While many consider it unethical, in some publications, sponsoring content may increase your odds of earning editorial news coverage, so consider spending your pay-to-play budget with media outlets you’re targeting for earned media. We’ve seen, however, where this backfires for some companies and their agencies.
Today, it takes more time, strategy, and a stronger storyline to earn the same level of media coverage as in the past. This makes year-over-year results difficult to maintain and increase. We recommend evaluating news coverage results by quality, not necessarily quantity. You want your earned news coverage to reach your potential customers, so focus your efforts on targeted outlets, not the general public. Don’t measure the number of news articles; instead, measure earned coverage in your 10-20 top target media outlets as well as meaningful conversations and relationships with reporters.
If your earned media program isn’t securing the news coverage you’d like, rethink your overall communications strategy. Check out our “Learn Media Relations from the Media” e-book for more best practices. Axia Public Relations manages regional and national companies’ earned media programs along with shared and owned media efforts. Even with the modern day restraints on newsrooms, our clients enjoy news coverage in outlets like USA Today, CNBC, Forbes, and Inc. Magazine.
Clients love Katie’s energy and enthusiasm. She works with local, regional, and national clients coordinating their PR campaigns. Katie has worked with Axia Public Relations since September 2015. Learn more about Katie.