In PR, there’s an old adage: “The press can make you – or break you.” Nowhere is that truer than in the case of a celebrity caught in a scandal.
Just kidding! Well, sort of. But the adage certainly does apply to businesses and their public relations, as well - just ask The Coca-Cola Company about their rollout of “New Coke” back in the 1980s. Sure, the company eventually bounced back, but that incident remains one of the best examples of a company with a previously-pristine and storied history making one of the biggest PR missteps in modern-day business. If you prefer some recent examples, Inc. has a list of the five worst PR blunders within the past decade – we sincerely hope your company’s name doesn’t appear in the article.
Of course, there is the other kind of media coverage…the good kind. Our goal is to teach you how to get media coverage andkeep your company out of New Coke territory. Here we go…
Types Of Media Coverage The first thing your PR team should know about is the three kinds of media coverage:
Earned Media – Also known as Earned Content, is third-party media attention about a business’s products or services that was not paid for by that business. In other words, it is publicity. Earned media exposure can take the form of anything from local news outlets or a TV/radio station mention - to national or international press coverage, blog mentions, and even a topic on a podcast. Earned media is a powerful tool because it has the ability to influence people about what a company does and what it provides and can affect the success of a business (or highlight the aforementioned New Coke goof). Earned media also acts as the function through which your organic traffic is measured. Remember the two links above to Inc. and its online story about the five biggest PR blunders? Those two links are an example of an earned media win for Inc., and we are certain that the fine folks there are eternally grateful to us for including them in this blog. You’re welcome, Inc.
Paid Media – This type of media exposure is primarily the responsibility of your marketing or advertising team. They will handle everything from paid media coverage, vis-à-vis placed ads on any media outlet, social media marketing, search engine ads, pop-ups, advertorial placements, and any other kind of mention where money has been paid by a company to another party in the hopes of being seen by a target audience. Paid media can be expensive (especially during the Super Bowl!), but it is the surest way for businesses to get a guaranteed media placement. Digital paid media, such as social media marketing and premium online ads, also drives traffic to a company’s website or other online formats to promote brand awareness and keep a business involved in “the conversation;” it also helps companies enter into new markets by educating a fresh audience about a brand.
Owned Media – Consider this kind of press coverage a mix of earned and paid coverage, but with a twist: Owned media describes a channel that is directly owned by a business; the twist is that the business has absolute control of the delivery of the content, as well as the messaging and interaction options. Examples of owned media include the static content of websites and social media profiles, blogs, and those all-important press releases.
When It Comes To Media Coverage, Think POSITIVE! If a company could be a person, having bad media attention is the human equivalent of having a hole in the head…it’s NOT pleasant, to say the least. Therefore, the goal is to always show your company in a positive light. If you are able to create a strategy of showing off your business’s best parts – and the parts that haven’t been achieved yet but will be soon – you are essentially building your brand awareness as a credible company that deserves attention. What can such a presentation lead to? Well, for starters, your company’s leadership can assume roles that show them as industry thought leaders on relevant topics, issues, products, and/or services that other companies and/or consumers need. Presenting your leaders to journalists and news outlets as smart people with important things to share on a topic or industry can attract customers, stakeholders, and shareholders who are likely to advocate for your business’s credibility. Developing A Strategy for Media Coverage Now that we covered what media coverage is and why it matters so much, it’s time to cover what makes a strong strategy to gain the attention of journalists and media outlets. Because paid and owned media coverage has a bigger collaboration effort with marketing, we’ll concentrate on what you can do to increase your earned media coverage.
Perfect your media relations efforts. A great PR professional will make sure they reach out to the target journalists and media outlets in order to create a media list without becoming a nuisance. Do your best to introduce yourself and your company, and don’t try to make contact when they are on a deadline. If the journalists or media outlets are local, take some time to meet with your contacts and find out how they prefer to receive news coverage. As for print publications, you must always remember that your target contacts receive hundreds, if not thousands, of press releases every single day; for that reason, be judicious about the pitches you make…what you think is worth covering might be considered a waste of a journalist’s time, so when you are contacting journalists directly (recommended), make certain your news is compelling enough to warrant news coverage.
Identify notable freelance journalists and bloggers. Gaining media coverage with card-carrying members of traditional outlets is great…but so is making sure you ingratiate yourself and your company to industry contacts that tend to be hungrier for a good story than employees of media outlets. It’s also sometimes easier to get some quality time with freelancers than it is to carve out some one-on-one time with other journalists. Research the freelance journalists that have large numbers of followers on social media and elsewhere. This goes for podcasters, too: the popular podcast hosts are often followed by members of your target journalists and media outlets. Besides…good exposure is great to have – especially when you can add links to such interviews to your company’s website and social media accounts.
Pay attention to trends. Try to start every workday morning by reading whatever you can online, as far as your company’s industry is concerned. What kinds of stories are getting attention? What are traditional journalists, media outlets, industry publications, and freelancers covering? Within the past few years, we’ve seen a lot of attention paid to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), Environment and Social Governance (ESG), and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) topics…does your company have any initiatives that are unique to your industry? What about technological trends – does your company offer a state-of-the-art software or online interface that’s unique enough to tout? Finding what topics are trending early on will help your business’s chances of gaining its own coverage.
Make blog posts and social media content a high priority. Keeping your website and social media accounts as active as possible is critical because your company’s followers and/or friends can share what you put out there with their own followers/friends; this is called the Billboard Effect: having others share your news is akin to advertising on a billboard for all passers-by to see. If your content is compelling enough, it can go viral, and viral blogs/social media posts tend to attract the attention of all sorts of journalists and influencers.
Add an online newsroom to your company’s site. One of the biggest favors you can do for your business is to create a page that acts like your company’s own newsroom – and then keep it fresh with new content at least a couple of times per week. Not only does fresh website content raise your organic search ranking, but it also helps those who want to write about or feature your company when they’re looking for background information or other tidbits that can tell your business’s story more thoroughly. Additionally, if yours is a public company, or one that plans to become public soon, your newsroom can increase the chances of building interest from investors and shareholders. DON’T FORGET: ACCESSWIRE offers an Online Newsroom product – to schedule a demo, click here!
ONE LAST TIP: All business news starts with a single press release. Let ACCESSWIRE distribute your news on the widest, most comprehensive media network in the business with flat-fee pricing! We also offer plans with no word count limits or multimedia fees…we even include your company’s logos and social media links without any surprise fees tacked on! To schedule a demo of our press release distribution platform, contact us today!