In this age of social media and online marketing, traditional or legacy media is probably more important than ever. Why? By being featured in the media you become the news, you become the story. You then can amplify and magnify your traditional media coverage via your social media platforms.
But media relations is a puzzle to most business people and entrepreneurs. It is more ephemeral than other forms of marketing. Unlike advertising, you can’t buy a spot that will run on a particular date, or a commercial spot that will air at a predetermined time. But, also unlike advertising, public relations is the only form of marketing that offers you the validation and legitimacy of being presented as a news story. When stories do run, you’re seen as a trusted, reliable expert. You’re the one the public will turn to for advice and prospects will look to.
Think of PR not as a marketing option, but as a necessity. Whether you have the ability to hire a firm or a PR consultant to help you launch a campaign, or (at least for now) have to go it alone, there are always steps you can utilize the magic of media marketing.
- present yourself as an expert
- address a topic that is currently being discussed in the news
- understand that the media is in the business of edutainment
- utilize you PR and media coverage
- think you know what the media wants
- start a PR campaign before doing your homework
- try and bully the media or do a hard sell
- be impatient
The media is continually looking for experts to help explain a particular field, or to explain a story that’s in the news. Position yourself as one of the premiere experts in your field who can answer questions, educate, and explain different aspects to do with your area of expertise. Once the various media outlets realize that you will work with them and can answer their questions, they’ll start coming to you. Don’t narrow your bull’s-eye when it comes to presenting yourself as an expert. In other words, if there is a particular topic of procedure you’re particularly interested in addressing, don’t limit yourself to only that topic. Present yourself as an expert that the media can call on. Then when you pitch them a story you want to discuss, the chances of them responding positively are much greater. Also, every media interview or appearance helps build your brand, your media resume.
If there is a story that is being covered in the news that relates to your field of expertise, present yourself as an expert who can address that particular issue. Study the news coverage and see if you can come up with a new or different angle or approach to the story, or simply present yourself as an expert who can make sense of or clarify the story. Present yourself as an authority who can meet the media’s needs and can explain a topic to the general public in layman’s terms.
Keep in mind that attention spans are short; the media looks for quick, interesting explanations. Remember you are not trying to fully explain a topic during an interview but to help bring some understanding to the issue. What you primarily want is to establish yourself as the go to expert for the media, the public and prospective clients who are dealing with issues that have to do with your specialty. The interview or article is simply the door opener. But, for a producer, or writer or editor to want to call on you for an interview, you have to make them feel comfortable that they’re going to come away with a good interview. You don’t have to turn into a showman (or woman) but at the same time, you don’t want to deliver information in a boring monotone using business jargon or verbiage that most of the public won’t comprehend. Imagine you’re talking to a group of grade school kids, how would you explain the topic to them?
Landing that story or interview is like gold. It’s remarkably valuable. But you are the one who decides exactly how valuable your media coverage will be. How? By how you utilize your media. One strategy is to do nothing but the interviews. Just having the stories appear can be remarkably beneficial, but in essence it’s a waste of an incredibly valuable asset. If you really want to maximize your public relations efforts, you want to utilize your media. What I mean by that is that you want to capitalize on the various ways you can get your media in front of the public and in front of other media outlets. For example, you want to post links on all of your media in your various social media platforms, you want to highlight your media coverage on your blog, you want to utilize your media in all of your marketing efforts, which could include ads, commercials, and direct mail pieces. You also want to have copies of your media available in our office or at seminars, etc. You get the idea.
Yes you want the media you have garnered work for you, but for that to truly happen you need to be proactive and work your media.
Perhaps the most common mistake PR novices make is believing they know exactly what the media is looking for, or believing that because they find their company, product or service fascinating that the press will as well. That is a trap to avoid. Try to think like the media. Look at your pitch from their perspective. Be as honest with yourself as you can be. If you were an editor or producer, would you find the pitch newsworthy? If not, go back to the drawing board and come up with a more media friendly pitch
If you can hire a public relations firm, or PR consultant, great, but if not, there are still things you can do to start creating a buzz around you and your company. However, don’t start moving forward until you learn the PR basics. Study the media and come up with effective stories.
You’re job isn’t to sell the media, but to present yourself as a media resource. The more your help them – the more they’ll help you. Don’t try and push the media into buying into your story or product. They need to be willing to help you, which also means you need to be willing to help them.
PR is not like a fire sale. It’s not a quick hit approach. It’s a long term, cumulative program designed to grow your business and build your brand. Patience is key to ensuring your PR campaign is a success.
If you want to effectively grow your business, establish yourself as an expert and build your brand. Think of PR not as a marketing option, but as a necessity. Follow this advice and create an effective PR campaign.