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What Do You Mean You Can’t Guarantee Me Media Coverage?

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What Do You Mean You Can’t Guarantee Me Media Coverage?

I get asked this a lot, “Can you guarantee me media coverage?”

No. I can’t.

The only guarantee of placement is the placement you pay for.

Yet, there are no guarantees with any form of marketing: even paid advertising. With an ad, you pay a specified amount of money, get complete control over creative and messaging, and you know where and when your ad will place. But, it doesn’t mean people will buy.

There is no way to guarantee the quantity or location of a news story; even with great contacts and connections.

The final decision on whether to run a story rests with the editorial team. I could be besties with a journo and that still doesn’t guarantee a run.

You can have the best story, well pitched and still not get the story over the line. There are many factors influencing why a story doesn’t get coverage.

Having a well-thumbed little black book of media contacts is certainly handy. Still no guarantee. Maybe ten years ago, but the media space has changed so much. You see posts from journos saying they don’t like being called (hard to build a relationship if you can’t talk to someone).

Newsrooms have been decimated with a string of ‘cost-cutting’ exercises over the past two years – there are less doing more. Tweets are run as news. Sometimes it seems as if inane, meaningless stories are what people want.

Paid for results.

I’ve been asked if I’ll do paid for results. Given this breaches the Public Relations Institute of Australia’s code of ethics: “Members shall refrain from proposing or agreeing that their consultancy fees or other remuneration be contingent entirely on the achievement of specified results,” the answer is no.

Earned media coverage.

PR means you are at the mercy of the media, but the rewards can be very high.

PR shouldn’t just be hinged on media wins. The rewards from getting great coverage are valuable, but PR is everything you say and do. A PR plan needs to be a tapestry of different strategies and tools; people no longer use one source for information, and they need to be ‘sold to’ more frequently. Used to be five touches to close a sale, now it is closer to 21.

People get so focused on one aspect of PR – the newspaper, radio or TV win. Yep, that is cool (great for the ego) but at the frenetic speed of the news cycle, means that story is here today, gone tomorrow.

There are many ways to build a brand using PR; use a mix. And if it seems like it is taking time, that’s probably because it is. PR is not a quick fix or a magic bullet. It’s strategy, delivered across multiple platforms, keeping in mind the most important stakeholder — the target audience.

PR shapes messages.

A PR campaign shapes your messages and leverages your brand to reach your target audience across multiple platforms. It has to be more than getting media coverage.

It seems getting coverage is the PR default. Don’t get me wrong, most PR services aim for this, but that’s because that’s what people want.

People don’t understand or realise the intricacies of a robust strategic plan. We all want a quick and easy win.

PR …. building a brand takes time. Cliché as it is, PR is a marathon. Six weeks or one media release is not going to be enough. It’s like going on a diet and expecting to lose 20kgs in a month when it took you two years to whack it on.

Brand building takes time.

Coming to a PR wanting to promote your book or event with two weeks to spare is not going to get adequate results. You’ll blame the PR. But you really should have taken the time to plan with the big picture in mind.

PR return on investment.

When you are forking out for someone to do the work for you, you want a return on investment (ROI). We get that. That is what we work hard to deliver for you. Yet, it is important to manage expectations. To let you, the client know, that PR is not a magic pill.

Getting good PR is about relationships (they take time), it is about building solid foundations to build your story on (that takes time), it is about a mix of tools combined to leverage your message (that takes time), it is about getting cut through with your target audience, building their trust (that takes time).

This is all sounding like an excuse, justifying why we’re not getting media coverage wins. Hedging our bets. Yet, it is the reality of PR. It is not about leaching more money out of our clients.

A good PR becomes a part of your team and gets to know you and your business. We are the breadcrumb droppers — whispering in the ears of the media and ultimately, your target audience, leading them to you.

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