Sometimes clients and publicists focus so much on getting any coverage they can, they miss the point of why it’s important and what to do with it once it has been secured. After all, the value of most PR professionals, unfortunately, is almost always measured by whether or not she gets the right media “hits” for a client. So often, the first order of business in setting up any PR plan is to draft a wish list of potential media placements that the client is dying to get. After that, it’s a matter of scouring contacts to make the connections, creating a fully functional media list, writing a press release, sending it out and then doing the requisite pitch and follow-up calls. But before you and your publicist go that traditional route, consider this: getting a media hit is the TOOL, not the GOAL.
Let me explain. Media hits have short self lives. For instance, if you get a hit in your local daily newspaper, that’s great. But your target audience only sees that once in the paper, and possibly online for a day or two. After that, it’s archived and, essentially, forgotten. The good news is that the coverage or the press release leading up to that coverage does pop up in search engines. For radio or television interviews, you get on the air for a few minutes, then it’s done. Sometimes, the link to your story is posted online. Sometimes not.
Here are IMAGINED advantages to getting media coverage:
1) You’ll instantly be famous and/or hoards of people will come to your event or buy your product.
2) You did a great job on your local TV morning show; why, then, is it so hard to get on “Oprah”?
3) PR is free advertising! You don’t ever have to buy another minute of advertising or invest in traditional or online marketing.
4) Once you get into the right publications or in the appropriate media outlets, your job is done. Just sit back and wait for magic to happen.
Here are REAL advantages to pursuing media coverage:
1) If you are featured in a vertical monthly publication (Woman’s Day, Popular Mechanics, Rolling Stone), you have access to your direct target audience for an entire month, and usually a beautiful tearsheet to show for it.
2) You are building a relationships with the media over time. If you’re a consientious, informative and dynamic guest, you’ve increased your chances in becoming a regular interview subject or featured expert. Staying in front of your audience consistently is absolutely essential in building public awareness.
3) You can use the “hit” as part of your marketing materials, customer outreach, sales pitch, or to secure media coverage from larger national outlets.
4) You’re finding what part of your product or service’s story works, and what doesn’t. When your hits are far and few between, that’s a sign that something may not be resonating with enough people to generate interest. Use this as an opportunity to audit your messages.
5) I’ve said this before and I will say it again: create a variety of opportunities to stay in an editor’s or producer’s line of sight. Consider PR strategies when developing your business goals each quarter and match up those goals with appropriate opportunities. Think of this way, Coke still spends billions on advertising although everyone on the face of the planet knows they exist. Why? Because the reason they are so well-known throughout generations is because they understand that consistent exposure is the key to their success.