How to Get More Media Coverage (and Why Media Relations is Still Important!)
You’ve probably heard the terms earned media, owned media and paid media, but may not be completely sure what the differences are. While there can be nuances to each, perhaps the easiest way to think about them is:
- Earned media is coverage you’ve earned through your media relations efforts, typically inclusion in some form of news story.
- Owned media is what you’ve created, such as blog articles or the content you’ve developed for your social media platforms.
- Paid media is, by definition, content you’re paying to get exposure for, such as traditional advertising or pay-per-click advertising.
If your company is already heavily invested in owned and paid media, you may be wondering if media relations—that is, pursuing earned media—should still be an important part of your marketing mix. The answer is definitely yes, for the following reasons:
Simply put, the credibility that comes from inclusion in a story by a trusted third-party source can’t be topped. The most attention-getting advertisement or informative blog article always suffers from the fact your audience knows it was created to put your product or service in a positive light.
No matter how much effort you’ve invested in building an opt-in list for your blog or a strong social media following, most companies will never be able to create as large of an audience as a newspaper, television station or trade magazine. At SCG, many of our media relations efforts focus on trade publications, and while they don’t reach as broad of an audience as mainstream media, they often have tens of thousands of subscribers who are focused on a specific topic that’s important to our clients.
Adding to Your Content Mix
Content is still king, but it’s a beast that must be fed often. Being included in a news story or having one of your experts write an article for a trade journal is amazing content that you can repurpose and share through your company’s intranet and social media channels. Encourage your employees to share the story though their personal platforms as well. Trust us, nothing will get your competitors more upset than seeing your company featured instead of theirs in an important story.
How to Get More Earned Media
Now that we better understand what earned media is and why it’s so valuable, the question becomes how to get more media coverage. Most B2B companies aren’t well known outside of their industries, so the media generally won’t come to you with story requests—it will take hard work to get coverage for your brand. Here are a few ways to get more success out of your media relations efforts.
- Plan Ahead
Just like when you walk into a retail store and see spring clothing in the dead of winter, most media outlets are thinking months ahead. This is especially true for trade magazines, which often publish on a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly basis. Even television news stations are planning stories around significant holidays or events weeks to months in advance. Your media relations partner should be reviewing editorial calendars and tying pitches to editorial topics or key dates, but the sooner you can approach the media with your story idea, the better chance you have of getting included in a story.
- Be Multimedia Friendly
All media outlets are short staffed and don’t have the resources they once did to produce high quality graphics or video to accompany a story. Editors aren’t just looking for a good story to tell anymore—they need as many components as you can provide. Being able to offer high-resolution images, charts, or video will often be a deciding factor in whether they choose your story, or how prominently they feature it.
- Think in Headlines
It’s up to you (and your media relations partner) to tell your story in a way that will be interesting and relevant to a media outlet’s audience. Often that means thinking of clever and creative ways to explain your product or service in a way almost anyone can relate to. For example, many years ago, one of us worked with a client that came out with a memory card reader that was compatible with all the different memory cards on the market. When the spokesperson was interviewed for a TV news segment, rather than droning on about the six different memory cards it could read, we had him say, “this is the Swiss Army Knife of memory card readers and works with any type of memory you have.”
- Honor Your Promises
If you’ve agreed to an interview, make sure you show up prepared. If you agreed to provide answers to questions in writing, make sure you deliver them by the agreed upon deadline. Also, be sure the statements you provide are informative, not promotional. Journalists have incredible memories and will remember those who were good resources for them—and those who weren’t. If you burned a bridge with a journalist it’s unlikely they will want to work with you in the future. By the same token, being a good resource often means they will come back to you with story ideas because they know they can count on you.
Getting media coverage takes the right strategy and a lot of effort, but the results are invaluable. Get in touch if you have additional questions about good media relations practices or how to get more earned media for your brand.