by David Menzies
Placing ads in magazines, newspapers, and online outlets that your prospects and customers (i.e. your target audience) frequent is a way to enhance branding and drive awareness of your business name, logo, etc. However, today’s consumer has continued to insulate his or herself from the onslaught of advertising messages both mentally and through technology such as pausing live TV and fast-forwarding through commercials, and closing or outright blocking online pop-up ads. If a target audience is actively avoiding advertising messages, the challenge then becomes how to get in front of them to initiate a desire to buy. In print and electronic media outlets, what is surrounded by ads? The answer is editorial content — this is the area to target with strategic messaging.
Working to place your strategic messaging within news stories, feature articles, opinion pieces, and radio and TV reports to instill a want or need for your products or services is the crux of effective media relations, especially for passive audiences. Developing a strong value proposition for reporters is key to convince them it is worth their while to discuss issues with you in their specific media outlets. This establishes you and your business as an authority on matters of interest to readers, and ignites within them a desire or need for your products or services.
The penetration of your strategic messaging into editorial content itself, which has a long shelf life, enables you to track which news outlets will be featuring your business and to refer to articles well after they have been published, reaching even more new audiences. This is an important advantage over ads, which do not always appear in the right media at the right time; have a set number of times they appear; can sometimes end up smack dab next to competitors’ ads; and in the case of online ads can be easily blocked. With online editorial content in particular, just one story can be republished in dozens of outlets because of the unique ownership structure of media conglomerates, thus your message can reach tens of thousands of additional readers through the same article.
It’s not brain surgery, but there is a proven method to getting reporters to write about you. The devil is in the details; for starters, you’ll want to research or get trained on how to effectively do the following:
- Find trusted news outlets frequented by your target audience
- Identify the correct reporters, editors, and publishers (i.e. your editorial contacts) who will be receptive to your story
- Research the news outlets’ editorial calendars to determine the right fit and when to pitch in order to make deadlines
- Build your story
- Pitch the news outlets’ contacts
- Manage the relationship to guide the story through publication
The aforementioned process varies in complexity based on numerous factors related to the targeted media and your particular story. It’s a lot of work and can be time-consuming if you don’t build your plan of attack properly. But the benefits of getting your strategic messaging into editorial content is huge: it allows you to control how, when, and where your message is delivered via articles people are seeking out in trusted third-party media, holding more credibility than advertising.
Done right, your efforts can result in prospects — who previously had no idea they needed your products or services before they began reading, watching, or listening to their favorite news outlets — suddenly becoming interested and itching to buy, while gaining trust in the integrity of you and your business and becoming longtime repeat customers.