Content might be the buzzword in marketing right now, but for some of us seasoned PR professionals, content is what we’ve been producing to help us tell our story to consumers via the medium of editorial, or earned media for years.
Media relations has become synonymous with Public Relations yet it’s just one part of the broad scope of PR. I continue to read valid articles written by journalists telling their audience to ‘never trust a bad PR’ – and invariably they’re entirely focused on media relations.
The perception extends outside of media; I’m often asked for ‘PR advice’ by friends starting their own business. This week’s request was for feedback on a media release and how to pitch to the titles my friend sees as her target audience. If only media relations was as simple as writing the copy you want to see published and emailing it to your preferred outlets! It’s confirmed two things for me that I want to share.
1. Get the essentials right
I had to break it to my friend that Vogue Living does not want to write about the opening of a yoga studio in Brisbane. And then I gave her some pointers on:
- how to write a press release, recalling the tried and trusted w.w.w.w.w formula (who, what, where, when, why).
- what makes news – that is, the information that people need or will want to know. It needs have controversy, proximity, utility or entertainment at the very least.
- tailored pitching and targeting. A media release tells the whole story, but it’s the thoroughness of a verbal or email pitch that explains why it’s relevant to a particular outlet, especially for lifestyle media.
2. Hitting the Content Sweet Spot powers media relations
Good media relations is about knowing your facts, the outlet you’re talking to, having communication skills and a healthy dose of empathy.
Great media relations involves understanding not just the types of stories target media and bloggers write about, or knowing the news cycle, such as the best time to pitch a print or a radio story, but also:
- knowledge of meta trends that can link to your brand, product or initiative
- a well articulated benefit for the end user (we call this ‘what’s in it for me?’)
- an ownable platform or concept that intrinsically links a brand or product to a news story, making it impossible for the brand to be cut out.
At FORWARD, we call this the Content Sweet Spot and we don’t talk to media or bloggers without looking at our comms plans through four key lenses to find it.
It’s what makes media relations a strategically planned part of a campaign. (Yes, I did just use the words media relations and strategy in the same sentence.) With a strategic foundations, I can manage expectations and to have the courage to recommend against a media release as a piece of content when there’s no news.
3. When to look beyond media relations
When there’s no significant news, but you still wants to raise brand awareness, we might look outside of the earned media channel. For example, an activation or an influencer campaign that can drive buzz in social might lead to an opportunity to create content that we can leverage through media relations as a supporting pillar of the campaign.
So next time you want to build your brand through earned media, bear in mind that there is more to public relations than a ‘one size fits all’ media release. Media relations still has a role to play within the comms mix and is one part of a PR strategy. We believe combining these three points – the essentials of media relations, finding the Content Sweet Spot and looking at the bigger picture are what delivers impactful results for you and build valuable relationships with your media network on your behalf.