PR = media results. It’s a fact even those unfamiliar with public relations know to be true. As industry professionals, it is our responsibility to navigate the complex world of media relations on our clients’ behalf, build a rapport with journalists across a variety of publications and verticals and, naturally, land solid media hits that lead to a positive action – booking a hotel room, purchasing a product, forming new awareness or an elevated opinion… the list goes on. But often, companies can get hung up on the quantity of results without first considering the quality. Here at WOC, one of our guiding philosophies is our belief that media hits are not a communications strategy. Take a deeper look into why, and how a fresh perspective on results can benefit your brand’s bottom line.
Recently, a client partner was looking to spread the word on a comprehensive, weekend-long event that would appeal to a specific type of traveler. Rather than sending a pitch to every outlet that maybe, possibly, if the time was just right could have covered it; I got real – I examined the timeframe we had, the audience we were trying to hit and the feasibility of particular outlets saying “yes” given their proximity (or lack thereof) to the location. The end product? A slimmer, but highly tailored, pitch list. And it worked – we got several hits that made perfect sense for the task at hand. One single-handedly resulted in close to 70% of the attendance goal reached within just a few days of being published.
This approach is beneficial in several ways – it conserves time (and therefore budget), leaving more wiggle room to focus on a variety of client efforts; it allows the PR pro to build more meaningful relationships with journalists they can reach out to time and again; and it ensures that media hits make real sense. The time used to create a well-crafted, impactful pitch and secure a few solid media hits is much better spent than on spinning wheels and taking shots in the dark, or getting a large number of hits that may not connect in the right way. Some may say, “at least you’re getting the word out,” and yes, sometimes you do need to take a chance on a pitch. But if you ask me, talking is a lot more productive when there’s someone ready to listen.
Readership numbers are important as well – they give indication to an outlet’s clout and how many eyeballs will be on your content. But sometimes, smaller outlets can be just the ticket. For example, say an online publication has 10,000 monthly readers. Not mind-blowingly impressive. However, you have to investigate who those readers are. Do they engage with the content? Do they comment on and interact with social media channels? Do their demographics fit the mold of the person you’d want to learn about your client partner’s news? You also need to do your due diligence on researching the outlet itself. Is the writing high-quality? Does the author hit on a number of focal points? Do they include great photos with their pieces? If so, they shouldn’t be overlooked based on numbers alone. Key takeaway – just don’t forget about the little guys along the way. Plus, any big pub has to start somewhere. If they happen to explode, you’ll already have your foot in the door and a relationship in place.
On the topic of big publications – another PR factor that often isn’t fully understood. For many brands, these are the Holy Grail of media hits, and rightfully so. We want them, too! However, even if you have a BFF-level rapport with the editor-in-chief, it takes a great deal of time, effort and typically multiple attempts to break through. Take a magazine with millions of readers each month. It will have more writers and editors assigned to cover content, to be sure, but also an inordinately higher number of pitches and invitations and press releases flowing in and out each day. I’ve had editors at national outlets tell me they get over 200 emails an hour, most from PR people. For an average workday, that’s 1,600 emails to comb through. A bit overwhelming, wouldn’t you say? Once they’re done sifting the good from the bad, they’re still faced with whether something fits with their (usually more stringent) editorial calendars, they have a writer to work on the assignment and whether they even have the space for it.
In a realistic world, it could take even a veteran PR pro with an awesome, perfectly crafted angle a year or more and numerous pitches to make it into a national magazine. Seriously. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying to write off your chances of ever getting into Sunset or Forbes. We’ve done both, many times, and there are more outlets where those came from. Just don’t put undue stress on yourself (or your friendly neighborhood communications expert) if you don’t make the cut right away.
So remember – when assessing the best approach to a media strategy; spend time on the smart stuff, don’t forget to play nice with the lesser-known and stay persistent when shooting for the big leagues. Before you know it, you’ll have a roster of results that highlight your brand and establish a savvy, respected public face.