As the role of the marketing department has evolved over the years, marketers are being tasked with more and more responsibility. Not only must we be concerned with advertising and PR responsibilities, but we’re now integral players in sales and customer experience activity. As marketers take on more responsibilities and are spread thinner across organizations, media relations often takes a back seat to other priorities. And when media relations is treated as an afterthought, it can be difficult to stay up to date on the latest best practices, especially in such a rapidly changing landscape. However, common misconceptions and failing to adapt to these changes can negatively impact overall marketing results, as media relations plays an integral role in the success of an overall marketing strategy.
Here are the three most common myths that could be holding your marketing program back from its full potential:
A pipeline of company news and press releases will keep journalists interested in writing about the company.
- What seems interesting and newsworthy to a company does not always translate to the same level of interest to the press. No matter how much a company positions its products, benefits, differentiators, events or other company-specific activity it’s not likely going to capture the media’s attention beyond a standard news write-up. For the best chance of receiving impactful media coverage, think beyond company news and focus more on validation, thought leadership and supporting data. To increase the odds of achieving good coverage, some of the best company assets and resources to leverage include customer references, third-party experts or partners, research (both internal and external), informative visuals and micro-content, and access to multiple company spokespeople with different areas of expertise.
The biggest media relations success for a company is to get an article in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times.
- During almost every new business presentation or new client kick-off meeting, I ask the new or potential client what the number one priority publication is for placing a story. Most often, the answer is The Wall Street Journal, New York Times or another top-tier business press outlet. When I ask why, there is usually an awkward silence before the usual answer: “Because it’s The Wall Street Journal.” Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of The Wall Street Journal, and it has its place in a media program. But often, it is not realistic to make this the number one priority, nor does it necessarily bear the results you are looking for – beyond the bragging rights. A more productive approach is to consider the publications that your target audience reads daily. Develop stories that will resonate with the journalist at these publications, gain traction with your core audience and approach business press only when it makes sense based on the story and resources available. Coverage in top-tier business press is nearly always achievable, but it should only be part of a comprehensive media strategy.
Media placements are for awareness only. Results can’t be measured.
- This is a common misconception, even among PR pros. There are a ton of measurement tools available in the market today, but none of them really seem to understand the metrics that matter for media relations. I’ve spent a lot of time manually collecting metrics from disparate systems in order to report the metrics that clients care about. Some go to metrics include audience, circulation or unique monthly visitors for the publication, strategic messages included in the piece, clicks or views, social shares, influencer engagement, leads (MQLs or SQLs), Google Analytics traffic spikes and referrals, etc. I’m so passionate about metrics, and frustrated by tools available, I’ve always joked that I should quit my day job and start my own media relations analysis company. But, luckily now I don’t have to. I recently came across a new media measurement company called SeeDepth, founded by PR veteran Christine Perkett, and it’s the most on-point tool I’ve used so far. It uses an algorithm to score media based on criteria that you can customize depending on media and business priorities. It ranks media outlets by tiers, tracks for strategic messages via keywords, integrates with Google Analytics, calculates social shares and scores each media placement based on a combination of all the criteria. Eventually, the company plans to use the tool to track conversions, as well.
Marketers are often put in a tough spot when it comes to media relations, especially when high-level executives and board members demand to see impactful results. Since media relations is still an art form, not an exact science, it’s up to us to stay in-tune with what journalists want as well as how to accurately account for what’s working and what’s not. Letting go of these three myths is a good start for shaping media programs and educating others about what success looks like when it is achieved.
These are great tips! I especially love your viewpoint on what I like to call “vanity hits” – those Wall Street Journal wishes that so many brands have. I couldn’t agree more – too many aren’t thinking strategically about what PR or media relations is really offering to their business vs general awareness. It’s nice and feels good to have thousands of people read about your company, but if they would never, ever be a customer, what’s the point? A more strategic approach to the outlets and channels that reach your prospects is more valuable.
Thank you, too, for the very kind comments about SeeDepth. We are so glad to have you on board as a customer.
SeeDepth Inc. – PR analytics software for brands and agencies
Helpful reminders Mikala. Thank you. I’ve recently seen a resurgence of the attitude of “let’s issue a press release” and not always for news, so this is a helpful objective view. Also, good to know about Christine’s new company. Sounds interesting.