5 Reasons You Need Media Relations5 Reasons You Need Media Relations
When done right, media relations campaigns deliver benefits unmatched by any other external communications activity.
May 5, 2017
Although the sentiment was never accurate, the terms “public relations” and “media relations” were once so closely intertwined that many executives – particularly those in SMBs – viewed them as synonymous and interchangeable.
In truth, media relations is a subset of public relations, which now incorporates so much of the marketing and communications spectrum that some PR firms exist without in-house media relations talent whatsoever.
Instead, many PR and marketing houses are focused almost exclusively on advertising campaigns, SEO, lead-gen campaigns, event marketing and, of course, all things social media.
However, when done right, media relations campaigns deliver benefits unmatched by any other external communications activity.
Over the next month, we’re going to focus on the “done right” part of that statement to help you get the most of your media relations activities.
Here are five major benefits of incorporating media relations campaigns in your PR efforts:
1. Third-party validation
There are many methods of marketing content, but none offer the independent validation of credible, third-party sources discussing the importance of your company and the value of its offerings.
At no time in history has the value of an endorsement – or perceived endorsement – by a trusted content source been more valuable than it is today.
Customers know that advertisements are just that – advertisements, that social media’s been inundated by “fake news” and that customer reviews and ratings systems can be rigged with fake responses.
Even customer endorsements are more potent when reported by media than on your website because your customers and prospects realize they are third-party vetted.
2. Content on Steroids
Some marketers view content marketing and media relations as separate activities.
This is a mistake.
Media relations activities can extend the reach of your content better – and more cost-effectively – than any other medium.
While it’s true that not all media pitches fly and that you can’t get media to cover something that does not have a strong angle, it’s also true that you can plan your content to be media-friendly from the outset to dramatically increase the likelihood of coverage. There’s a reason that it’s called “earned media” vs. paid media, after all.
Veteran marketers with long track records of success know that working with a media-savvy marketing and public relations firm can separate winning campaigns from losers, and dramatically alter your brand profile in the process —especially within your industry (see our third point on branding next).
Media relations can’t be a substitute for the proper development of brand identity, but it can reinforce your brand strategies where it matters.
Here we are starting to see how all the aspects of strong media relations campaigns come together to generate significant value as the validation of media coverage can not only help further a brand in raw numbers of views, but elevate the brand by virtue of its association with trusted information sources.
The key, of course, is to effectively communicate your brand identity in your media relations efforts so prospects and customers properly associate your brand with its products and services.
The good news on this front is that taking the time to get this messaging right also helps you build ongoing relationships with media.
Ideally, when a journalist, analyst or editor in your space thinks of products and services you offer, your brand comes to mind and your executives are called for interviews or conference panels or webinars, which furthers your brand and gets you in front of prospects and customers.
4. Lead Generation
When most of us think about lead generation, we think of events or content marketing—content marketing that incorporates advertising, keywords, landing pages, teaser videos and, hopefully, a valuable piece of content.
These are all good practices, but, here again, a little planning to make sure that content is also media-friendly – meaning it has editorial value to business and/or trade publications – can deliver a significant boost to your lead-gen campaigns.
All-in, media relations campaigns that complement marketing activities generate 10x to 50x the conversions of standard advertising campaigns, according to data from PR Analytics firm AirPR.
A 2014 study by Nielsen shows that earned media is the most effective source of information in impacting consumers along all stages of the purchase process.
5. Advocacy for Your Point of View
How many times have you read an article or editorial and thought, “They completely missed the value of firms like mine?”
To have a fair shot at editorial coverage, you need to engage with the media on behalf of your company’s value in the food chain.
Explain why what you’re doing matters and how it stacks up against what often turns out to be a flash-in-the-pan latest, greatest innovation.
When competitors with different models or products and services pitch their stories or their angles on hot topics and you don’t, it’s no different than …
… staying home on voting day and griping about the outcome.
Just as you don’t always get your way at the voting booth, you won’t always get the editorial coverage you want, but you can make sure your point of view has a voice in the chorus.
The Key is Doing It Right
There are many additional benefits to media campaigns that we could dig into – defensive branding, positioning your firm for capital formation or exit, establishing key executives as industry thought leaders, and many, many more.
But they must be done right.
This means knowing how to provide meaningful content, viewpoints or data to fit the needs of editors, instead of writing a press release about how awesome your company is and asking an editor to run a virtual advertorial for your firm.
It means building a business relationship with editors in your space so they think about you when they’re writing pieces in your part of your business ecosystem.
It means mastering the media pitch and being willing to advise editors on background (without being mentioned) sometimes.
And most of all, it means a sustained effort.
We’re going to shorten the learning curve for you in this series, with a look at media relations 101 and we’re going to turn the tables for you and interview editors on your behalf to find out what they most like, and dislike, about the pitches they receive.
But before we get to those pieces, we’re going to take a moment out in our next installment to look at one the most overused and least understood staples of media relations.
Look for “Anatomy of a Press Release” next week.
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