Nobody watches the media like the media; media relations tends to be momentum driven and cumulative.
My little Toyota Corolla didn’t quite roll to the intersection. It sputtered and jerked and slid.
I had to make this interview. My media relations and outreach efforts had secured an interview with CNBC for a technology client and the reporter had flown in to conduct it in person.
However, Mother Nature had other plans on that fateful morning in 2003. A blizzard had dumped a couple of feet of snow on Washington, DC as it blanketed much of the northeastern U.S. Nothing cripples the capital of the free world like a few snowflakes…and we were experiencing a major storm.
The Corolla was stuck. I wouldn’t be able to move it for days. As the saying goes, good initiative; poor judgment.
I couldn’t have been more disappointed. The reporter had flown in earlier and the interview went on as planned. The reporter got his story and the client got his interview – and it came with an education.
The time and effort for the news crew put into setup and film the interview lasted hours. However, the final segment was just a couple minutes long with the client’s spot lasting perhaps 30 seconds.
Proven ways to get more out of media relations
That’s just the way it was in 2003. CNBC was one of just a few possibilities for business or technology stories in the broadcast news. That was the outcome good media relations pitching earned. Yet today, with millions of “channels” on the web, it’s just the beginning.
Here are two such ways:
1. Interview notes are useful content
Traditionally, the PR purpose for “sitting on” interview calls was to facilitate. This means making sure both sides show up on time, throwing a lifeline if the interviewee gets into trouble, keeping a record of what was said, including any obligations made for follow-up details, and coaching the client following the call.
These are still valid reasons, but content marketing affords all the more reason:
- Use the content the reporter doesn’t. A 20-minute call with a print reporter still might yield just one or two quotes in the final story. A PR pro that takes copious notes can easily take what was not reported and transform it into blog posts, contributed article, or even a different media pitch.
- Reporters ask good questions. Notetaking shouldn’t merely record what the client says, but also, the questions reporters ask. Prepared reporters usually ask good questions – the types of questions their audience and your client’s potential prospects might have. Answering questions is still a solid way to develop useful content for blogs, FAQs, eBooks and other content marketing elements.
2. It’s not over with the placement
A period used to end a story, says Mitch Joel. Today it’s just the beginning.
What does PR do with a placement? Add it to a spreadsheet? Put it up in the online press room? Tweet a link? Of course, the answer is yes to all of these, but there’s a lot of other options too.
- Promote placements with paid social. After all the effort that goes into earning a placement in a respectable blog or media outlet – you want as many people as possible to see it and read it. A very simple and cost-effective way to do this is through paid social ads. When done well with targeted or customize audiences for a few hundred dollars can go a long way. No respectable journalist would ever admit it – but I guarantee those reporters notice extra traffic coming to an article. PR needs a small paid social media budget.
- Use smaller placements to earn bigger placements. Nobody watches the media like the media. Media relations tends to be momentum driven and cumulative. Use those hard-earned placements in smaller publications as credibility to pitch larger publications.
- Riff off the placement. If your organization has a blog – and it should – weave the placement into a post, or “riff” off it. Avoid self-aggrandizement about how awesome your company is for being mentioned in a respectable publication – and instead, seek to add value along the way. For example: explore a new story angle, but borrow a quote from the placement; weave several stories on the same topic, including the placement, together; add in some commentary from your notes that the reporter did not use.If you write a good blog post and it grows legs – this presents an opportunity also employ audience saturation again on the post. The benefit here is even better in that you are also growing your “owned media” community and inviting prospects to join it.
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In the case of that particular client and the CNBC interview, the web wasn’t yet strong enough to see the story immediately online. However, I knew I had a pitch with legs, and there would be many ways to slice it up and customize it for the verticals and trades.
In many ways, it was a bit like creative ways to repurpose content – and that’s one of the reasons I always say PR has been doing content marketing before content marketing was cool.
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10 PR Tips for Making Your Company Easier for the Media to Cover
Photo credit: Flickr, Tom Godber, Media Frenzy (CC BY-SA 2.0)