The has been much change in the media over the last 20 years. This is true of magazines and newspapers. If there is a print edition, there is most likely a website with the articles from the print edition plus additional content. That content could be specific to the website and/or archives of past stories. Television has also gone online. Whether it’s CNN, Fox, or your local station, content from newscasts plus specific digital content can be found on the website.
Let’s not forget blogs. They are now part of the media equation. They are produced by ordinary people, news media, and businesses of all sizes. For better or worse, the landscape for media has grown and changed. This is a boon for media relations.
This doesn’t mean media relations is easier, but there are more potential sources and thanks to the internet, we can measure efforts. Media relations remains an important ingredient in any public relations strategy. There are three important things that media relations does:
- Provides third-party validation
- Drives leads
- Produces measurable results
I was working with a group and as part of my research, I went through the local newspaper to see how many stories that the newspaper wrote vs. what was off the wire. There were only 6-8 stories. In other words, it wasn’t easy to get an article into the paper. This isn’t a problem, it’s an opportunity.
The opportunity is in the third-party validation that the media provides. A business can easily make all sorts of claims in advertising but that doesn’t make it true. Do you believe Chevrolet when they claim to have the best cars and trucks? Ford makes the same claim as does every other car maker.
Would you really expect a Ford commercial in which they say, “Yeah, we’re not the best. We’re not even second best. Chevy and Chrysler both make a higher quality product than we do.” All the marketing Ford does is for its benefit and it will always say that it makes the best cars and trucks. But, if Consumer Reports consistently gave Ford the highest ratings, it’s a different game because they are a third-party source. People are more likely to put stock into the idea that Ford makes great cars and trucks if Consumer Reports says it.
Prior to his retirement, I used to read Walt Mossberg’s columns. Mossberg wrote about technology for the Wall Street Journal for 22 years. He later started his own technology site, ReCode, with his partner. He became so influential in the technology world that he started several conferences. A good review from Walt was gold. There is a story that Steve Jobs refused to ship the iPod for PC until Mossberg tried it out and gave it a thumbs up. Mossberg had a great reputation and had become that influential with consumers.
Twenty years ago media relations was all about generating awareness. Placing an article in the media still gives me a feeling that a blog post doesn’t. Media relations is earned coverage. We have to convince the media to run the story. A blog post is within my control. I realize much of that feeling is a little ego boost. “My story is in the newspaper!” It’s important to put those feelings in check. Placing a story in the media may be good for the ego but at the end of the day, it’s really about driving business results.
If the story has piqued a reader’s interest, they will likely visit your website. Now you have a potential lead. If the article was interesting enough to send 200 people to your website you now have 200 potential leads.
My local newspaper prints an article almost every week in regards to new businesses in the county in which I live. It’s a great opportunity for these businesses but more often than not, there’s not a link pointing back to a website. There isn’t a place to get more information. A great opportunity has been diluted.
It’s 1998. A PR person crafts a news release and sends it to the New York Times who runs the piece. The client is ecstatic. But what did it really do? Did it drive leads? How many came from the story? Nobody was really sure. All we know for sure is that a million people who read the Times were potentially exposed to the story.
That’s not the case in 2018. We can actually see the impact of our efforts. A link was included in the article online that pointed back to a website. Whether it’s the New York Times or the Idaho Statesman or Joe’s blog, we can measure the traffic that was driven by the article. We have hard data that says ‘x’ number of people were interested enough to come to the website.
There is also the added impact that it makes your website more relevant. Moz focuses on search engine optimization (SEO) and they rank websites according to domain authority (DA). Essentially DA is measuring relevance. The highest score is 100. The higher the DA the more likely your website is going to be able to compete in search results on similar topics.
If I convince Forbes to run an article that includes a link back to my website, it improves my DA because Forbes has a higher DA than I do. Them running my article and pointing back to my website increases my site’s relevance. Most people would you be more likely to take PR advice from somebody who had articles in Forbes.
It’s About Results
Media relations is only one part of an overall PR strategy but it has an important role to play. If used properly it can help your business by providing third-party validation and driving leads. You can also measure results and validate the investment you made in PR. It’s about results and media relations can help your company meet its business goals.