With the advent of social media, is media coverage still relevant for your business – or any business - these days?
Is there any point even exploring this route? Why go through the hassle when you can get as many eyeballs on your business using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube?
Someone asked me these questions when I mentioned I was doing some public relations for Mastermind Strategies, and they are definitely worth considering.
Social media is easily accessible to all. You can get involved with paid advertising on these platforms, but for the most part, there is no cost attached to setting your business up on social media. All you need to do is set up a page or profile, create content and share it.
This gives the impression that a mainstream media feature for you or your business is a redundant requirement. You may well have come to that decision for your own business.
So why bother getting media coverage?
It is essential to highlight that social media is only ONE type of media content; there are four others that are just as important.
There are large media sites (such as The Huffington Post); single author blogs and / or podcasts (such as this one); multi-author blogs and / or podcasts (such as mindbodygreen); and finally, mainstream media (such as The Times).
As well as the low entry barrier, social media has a quick turnaround (just input your content and hit “Publish”), and the potential to send you viral in minutes! What it can lack is the prestige that mainstream media still possesses.
So even though this section of the media topography has seen a phenomenal amount of change with the growth of the internet, the spread of online access and the evolution of mobile phones, and has been forced to evolve by catalysts such as Facebook, it still has the edge when it comes to its ability to influence audiences and how it is regarded, compared to other types of media content.
Mainstream media has the edge in its ability to influence audiences and is held in high regard
Think about some big brand names. Coca-Cola, Barclays Bank, Virgin Atlantic, Vodafone are all regularly featured in the mainstream media. If Coca-Cola still takes the trouble to advertise, then there must be benefits to be gained!
The big advantage of being covered in the mainstream media is the potential to be presented to a wider audience.
Those precious minutes when you or your business is featured is an opportunity to showcase your expertise, while informing your captive audience about the range of products and / or services you have to offer.
Getting media coverage - particularly in an editorial, i.e. coverage that you do not have to pay for, has an incredible Return on Investment as it brings you and your business before a large audience, and can translate into your ultimate goal of increased sales.
Whereas paid advertising requires hefty budgets that are often beyond the means of most small and medium businesses (it can cost something in the region of £50,000 for a one-page advertorial in a national newspaper, and the same for thirty seconds during a commercial break for any of the leading soaps!), an editorial feature will generally cost you the time it takes you to pitch your story to a journalist, and then write the piece if commissioned (or give your interview, if it is a radio or television slot).
However, many owners of small and medium-sized businesses either don't want to invest in a PR agency, or just don’t have the budget to do so. Without that expertise many don't know where to start, and miss out on what is a very lucrative source of warm prospects.
Bearing all that in mind (and without Coca-Cola’s PR budget!) it was quite enlightening to be a delegate at a PR conference last week - I explain why I decided to go here - and these were some of the insights I gleaned.
The event was organised and hosted by Janet Murray, a PR coach, seasoned journalist and author of Your Press Release Is Breaking My Heart. She did a brilliant job of making the conference both educational and practical, and with eight journalists from organisations ranging from The Guardian and New Statesman to Marie Claire and Good Morning Britain, it was also the start of some beautiful friendships!
As you can imagine, there were so many gold nuggets of information. Aside from the points above, I have summarised a few more useful tips:
Know Your Publication
I’ll call this one KYP.
Research the publication you want to be featured in before you pitch.
Buy it, read it, get familiar with the different sections of the publication.
Who reads it? Does their target audience correspond with yours? What core issues do their readership face that you could address?
How long in advance should you send in your pitch?
It may seem like an obvious point, but it soon became apparent from the journalists present that many people make the mistake of not doing their homework first.
Find out who edits the section you would like to be featured in
You can find this out from the website or by making a quick phone call.
Stay on top of news and trends
You must have an awareness of what is going on in the world around you.
How is the story you want to pitch relevant to current news stories?
Connect your expertise to current news, and make sure your pitch is tailored to the audience of the publication you want to be featured in.
Think about how your product or service fits in with trends in social media, business, lifestyles, and politics, to name a few.
Approach them with an appropriate, interesting pitch.
Readers resonate with good stories, and so journalists are interested in what's relevant to their readers
By appropriate, I mean you need to pitch a story that your chosen journalist - and more importantly, their audience - find relevant. True, your ultimate goal is to increase your sales.
But remember that no one else has your business or goals as a top priority! Readers resonate with a good story, and journalists are only interested in what is relevant to their readers.
Make your pitch interesting. Does it have a human interest element? Is there a story of triumph over adversity?
Share your expertise and make your voice heard!
You may not believe it, but you have a lot to offer journalists.
Your expertise and experiences make good stories, and the world is waiting to hear what you have to say, in your unique voice.
Don’t try to be anyone else; YOU have a unique viewpoint that people want to hear.
So don’t be afraid to climb aboard the PR ship. You’ll need to invest some time upfront, but huge benefits await your business.