You can be the most marvellous business in the whole world but if no one has heard of you so what?
Getting yourself known is the holy grail of all business activities because to a large extent you have very little control over the biggest tool available to you that is the media. Whilst many an innovative marketing manager has laboured under the impression that they have what it takes to get their story in the press, in fact a lot depends on circumstances. It is like holding the king in a game of trumps and being forced to play it at the same time as the person holding the ace!
So how do you get noticed by the media? What can you do to improve your chances even if you can’t guarantee the outcome?
The standard thing to do is to write a press release and then send it to your favourite or even every media outlet you can think of. However, it’s always better to take aim at a specific target with a high calibre weapon than it is to blast the target with a shotgun aimed in the general direction.
The first thing to remember when loading your weapon, is that every media outlet has a specific audience. A lifestyle magazine or website like Mumsnet targets women with young children and Elle magazine’s audience is most likely focused on younger more career minded women in their late 20s to mid 30s. National newspapers like the daily Mirror cater for the general public and have specific sections for specialist interest and websites like Techcrunch and Mashable are industry specific.
So the first thing to bear in mind is that you need to select the media outlet that matches your business message. There’s no sense sending an article about the launch of your new personal development program to Anglers Today unless you can make a direct link to how it will improve their readers fishing skills! This means that you need to take time to do your research and ascertain the most appropriate media outlets to target. Your analysis should take account of geographic coverage; audience; specialism and the seasons to name a few as all these will determine whether or not your story is going to fit the profile of the media platform you have chosen.
Another thing to consider is your story. Most businesses contemplating using the media for publicity take one of two approaches: either they think I’ve got nothing of any interest to say and therefore they give up before they begin; or they think everything about them is of interest to the rest of the world and send out press releases about how great their products are; that they’ve moved offices; hired a new member of staff or are hosting an event. The problem with this is it may be of interest to your business but unless you are constantly being followed around by the paparazzi, chances are your day to day activities aren’t news worthy. That said it’s possible to make any story appealing to a particular news outlet. You have to pick a relevant angle and be timely. A story that is likely to be picked up should be:
1.Relevant to the audience. For example if you’re an Accountant and you have just devised a great new system that makes completing tax returns for GPs a breeze then sending it to the BMJ at the end of the tax year is likely to result in a call from one of their journalists.
2.It should be newsworthy. A story becomes news when it has one or more of the following 7 qualities:
- timely – it happened recently;
- proximity -it has occurred in the area of the readership and therefore is relevant to them;
- rarity – it’s so unusual that it stops the reader in their tracks and make them go “geewhiz”;
- prominent – the person or people affected by the story are prominent members of the community;
- impact – it has a direct effect on the lives of the readers;
- novelty – it is the first time or a rare occurrence
- it is of human interest
3. It should be authentic. That is create stories that match your business message to the message of the media outlet rather than changing your message to match it. This is not the same as looking for the right angle for a story. For example suppose you want to get coverage by a local radio show that does a feature on how to deal with Cowboy builders and you run a building company that has developed a home owner’s guide for choosing a good builder; a code of conduct for good construction and run home maintenance seminars once a month in the local community center. Based on this, topics that are relevant to both your company and the radio station are: how to comply with building regulations; building an extension; planning your dream home. It is important that you identify the common messages because if you modify your core message for the sake of coverage a) it won’t be good quality coverage because you will be struggling to be authentic and b) the audience of the media outlets won’t become part of your community or convert into your customers because your wider message and blog won’t relate to the thing that drew them in, in the first place.
Getting media coverage is a great way to boost awareness about your business but like everything in marketing it isn’t a magic pill. If you do get coverage, even if it is carried by the major news outlets, you won’t be instantaneously launched to international stardom so forget any ideas of being able to sit back and put your marketing efforts out to pasture.
Typically all that happens is that you will get a short lived spike in your traffic or sales which will peater out as the days since your coverage increase. The larger the media outlet and the more prominent your feature, the bigger the spike. If the media outlet has a small circulation, listenership or viewership and/or the feature only gets a small mention, you’ll only get a small trickle of traffic/interest (if anything at all).
Using the media as part of your marketing strategy requires long term commitment, i.e. you need to create a publicity calendar so that you have a constant stream of stories that you are working up in order to release them as they become timely.
Have you got any free press coverage in the past or have you tried and are yet to be featured? Please do leave a comment and share.
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