The public has an insatiable appetite for great content, but where are they looking for it these days? They are looking to you.
The media world isn’t dying, but it sure is fragmenting and changing at an alarming pace. Newsrooms are shrinking. It seems a newspaper closes somewhere in North America every week. Even television – long thought immune to the disruption of Internet – is seeking ways to ensure its survival in the face of video on any device, any time, any place.
This state of affairs poses a serious challenge for business today as it attempts to get its stories heard. Companies still clamor for positive media exposure because independent media coverage delivers much more credibility than any advertisement. You just can’t beat it, but it’s getting harder and harder to earn media exposure in what we call Tier 1 media (large circulation daily papers, major consumer magazines, top radio and television stations).
And even if you turn to advertising, the going doesn’t get much easier. As audiences become savvier, they become increasingly less susceptible to the marketing messages they’re fed. Traditional advertising is being bruised by the same forces that are battering traditional media. Declining newspaper circulations and ad-skipping PVRs are a challenge for advertisers as much as they are for news people.
We believe that PR is still one of the most effective ways to get your message out, but we recognize the landscape is changing. Look at brands that dominate mind share in their industries and you’ll find a list of companies investing heavily in PR. We’re thinking of companies such as Apple, Google, Samsung, Ford, Coca-Cola, Johnson and Johnson, and McDonalds. Here’s the difference, they’re investing as much in publishing and broadcasting their own stories today as they are in trying to get others to talk about them.
- Ford was one of the first major corporations to move heavily into brand journalism first in the US, then in Canada.
- Johnson and Johnson speaks directly to new parents through its babycenter.com, which is now the #1 pregnancy and parenting website in the world reaching more than 45 million moms globally each month. Think about that. The number one site in this niche isn’t owned by a magazine, it’s owned by an advertiser.
- Google takes its “do no evil” mantra around the globe with streetview experiments called Google Treks designed to draw attention to environmentally sensitive areas.
As PR budgets are growing, that money is going towards content development and grassroots outreach as well as traditional media pitches.
For companies seeking to have their stories heard, here’s a modern checklist for you to consider as you develop your PR strategy:
- Is it news? Then let’s create a news release out to a targeted, customized media and blogger list.
- Is it interesting, but not hard news? Then can we find another angle to boost its news value? A charitable tie-in?
- A local success story? A celebrity? Can we stage a fun, visually appealing event?
- Can we give a media outlet an exclusive? Maybe an interview with a hard-to-reach CEO?
- How many ways can we tell this story ourselves? On our blog? On Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest?
- Can we make a video? YouTube is a monster when it comes to SEO and social sharing
- Are there opportunities to have our frontline or in-store staff spread the word? Can point of sale help?
- Put it in your newsletter and add it to your email marketing
- How can we boost the audience that gets to see our story? Facebook, Twitter, and Google Adwords can be targeted both geographically and demographically.
- Should we run a contest to help encourage sharing?
- Can we encourage user-generated content to let our customers help us talk about our brand?
- Is native advertising an option? More and more online media are offering companies the opportunity to put paid or sponsored information right next to editorial content.
- Are there other paid digital options such as home page takeovers of popular sites?
- Can we take our message directly to our target audiences through road shows or pop-up stores, conferences or town halls?
We tell our clients they need to take control of their own stories. The better you are at telling your story and the stories that surround your brand in a genuine, credible way, the better you’ll do in this rapidly changing media landscape.