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A journalist friend recently contacted me to ask if I had any connections while she was looking for a new job. Although she is a vet in the industry and has an extremely good network, not only did she lose her job, but all her connections were in the same boat, had moved to a different rhythm or changed jobs. The significant changes in the world of media relations have forced us to re-evaluate what a media “win” is and how to obtain it. But being catapulted into this new reality has given us the freedom to explore exciting new ways to help our customers reach their audiences in an authentic, meaningful way.
Let’s start with the constant merging of paid and earned ‘editing’. What is the difference between earned and paid media? Earned media tactics rely on the traditional form of media relations, where we pitch journalists, inform them newsworthy about our client’s product or service and offer interviews; then the journalist brings the news as they see fit for their relevant article. While paid media tactics entail a fee in exchange for coverage. Also known as sponsored content or ‘pay-for-play’ opportunities, both are perfectly authentic ways to hit PR buzz. In fact, newsrooms now divide their staff into “revenue-generating” or “non-revenue-generating” stories.
You may recall that my team recently wrote about the current media landscape and the dynamic changes affecting almost all media and the roles of journalists, as recently a number of major magazines eliminate their print editions. So, how can a PR firm use its industry expertise to help raise awareness for your brand using today’s modern media mix? Here are some tricks our team implements:
Related: How to Boost Your Brand Awareness and PR Strategy
Securing earned coverage is more challenging these days. Sure, you can make your team successful by setting up an affiliate program to encourage editors to publish your client’s product, but frankly, earned coverage doesn’t always happen overnight. Part of its success comes from building rapport with key reporters early on.
This is by following them on social media and reading their latest stories consistently. It’s about knowing who you’re pitching. Start a relationship by complimenting their work or participating in their social posts. Then, when it’s time to pitch, you’ll have built a meaningful rapport and can have a more meaningful discussion with the reporter about an article. Even if your client isn’t a good fit for a story, you’re more likely to get helpful feedback on why (so you can improve your pitch or offer a new angle), or even be passed on to their colleague.
With many media organizations having to identify new revenue streams to replace lost ad revenue, paid media tactics are becoming more common.
Leverage your client’s expertise by creating a thought leadership strategy using paid content. Using a company’s executive spokesperson to write or contribute on a recognizable media platform can help build a client’s credibility and raise awareness of the company. It also makes for great content to package and share on social media. While these opportunities come with a fee, they’re usually reserved for exclusive groups of executives and can be a great way to share their expertise through original content.
Also, look for ways your client can be part of seasonal roundups in paid online or broadcast placements, or control content by crafting your own editorial-style article. This matte release we made on behalf of our client, The Lagunitas Brewing Co., is the perfect example of how we made the news to keep the brand in the media at a peak time of the year – read it here. When done correctly, these spots will hit key brand messages and highlight key features so that the messaging achieves a customer’s overall goals. These can result in both national coverage and local placements, which can be packaged nicely for sales teams or used in marketing materials to help achieve desired business goals.
These two highly reliable avenues of media generation should not be seen as one or the other, but rather as part of one coherent plan. We call it a hybrid media relationship plan. For example, we like to take advantage of earned media opportunities for major company announcements or product launches and then leverage paid media opportunities to keep the conversation going in a controlled, quirky way.
Related: The Top 7 PR Trends Brands Should Care About Right Now
So, as the media landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace, so do our recommendations. Our job as PR experts is to work with each client to carefully understand the nuances of their business and create a media plan that ensures continuous media coverage.