One of the hardest challenges for public relations professionals is helping clients understand an important fact: Today’s media outreach may not return results for days, weeks or months.
Successful companies understand this reality for other parts of their business. Nobody expects a new hire to deliver top-notch outcomes on day one, or for new operations to immediately improve profits. But even many experienced C-suite executives expect that their big investment to push out their great message will turn heads at Forbes, Inc and The Wall Street Journal.
It’s easy to blame the executive for their unreasonable expectations. However, the reality is that it’s the PR pro’s job to help a boss or client understand the process of getting in the press.
One way to do that is to explain how media outreach is just another form of marketing.
First, Who Is the Target Audience?
The first thing we need to explain is that the end consumer of media – the company’s target audience – is not the first target audience. The first target audience is the media gatekeeper – the reporter, editor or producer who stands between you and the outlet you’re targeting.
Remember the Three Ts
Having good relationships with gatekeepers is valuable. But having the right content from the right person at the right time is far, far better. After all, it doesn’t matter if a CNBC producer likes you if you’re pitching tax season material the day before Thanksgiving, or if you’re asking the producer to cover early Covid-19 employment statistics two years after the pandemic began. The three Ts are:
- Topic – will the gatekeeper even care?
- Timing – did you send the topic at the right time?
- Title – does the person you’re pitching have credibility?
Just like marketing, it doesn’t matter if a prospect likes you personally. If you aren’t giving them what they need, they’ll buy from the competition.
Same Message, Different Angles
It allegedly takes four or seven or another number of touchpoints to get a prospect to take the action a company desires. This same principle holds true for the press, especially if you are targeting media that is unfamiliar with the client/employer, and/or targeting gatekeepers who rarely cover your topic.
Thus, it’s important to have a consistent, interesting message that has several variations. Don’t just repeat the same thing – “we have a study!” Just like ads change to keep the audience interested, so must you keep the media audience engaged.
“We have a study” might be the first entrée. Then, you might have a statement about something in the press which references the study. A third outreach might focus on new data which proves the study’s accuracy.
Cadence Is Important
Without the right cadence, your message will be forgotten…or become annoying. Great marketing and branding imprints on your target audience’s mind; the same is true for the press.
For example, you might e-mail a reporter as part of a media blast. A few days later, that reporter will get a phone call, Tweet, or LinkedIn message to follow up on the blast. And a few days after that, the reporter might get an exclusive coverage opportunity.
Every pitch opportunity and every gatekeeper is different.
Don’t Blame Executives – Educate Them
The most successful companies know that great marketing takes at least 18 months to really embed itself into a target audience’s brain. Your media strategy should take only a few months to begin securing quality results, but it’s up to you to help the boss or client understand this.