Are you even ready for media relations?
Earlier this week, I read an article on PRDaily.com that outlined the characteristics of a “perfect client,” and many of those characteristics related to media relations. (You can check out the article for yourself here.) That’s likely because media relations is one of the most sought after services in public relations. But honestly, it is possible for a client seeking media relations assistance to not be ready for it.
Let me explain.
It’s true that media relations can have an immediate and positive impact on your business. As author Michelle Garrett pointed out in the PRDaily.com article, “Earned media is one of the most powerful ways to market a company, product or service.”
One of Garrett’s sources, Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media, further endorsed the power of media relations. “When a publication writes about you and includes a link to your site, that builds authority,” he said. “Authority increases the likelihood that anything on your site will rank, meaning that PR pros can have a major impact on a company’s search rankings.”
However, media relations are going to be most successful for a company when a few “ingredients” are in place.
- The company’s brand story is developed, solid and ready for distribution.
Has the “why” and “how” of the company’s brand story been transcribed? Can a spokesperson for the company easily communicate why the business was started and why it’s successful? Is the company prepared to publicly talk about how the business has gotten where it is today, how the business is making an impact/helping people/changing the world and how others utilize the business’ services/products? If there isn’t a clear, solid and consistent brand story, it’s not a good idea to ignite PR efforts on the company’s behalf.
Think about it. Whether the company’s been in business for decades or only recently launched as a startup, once aggressive media relations efforts are initiated to get the business in front of new audiences, that’s exactly what’s going to happen – the company will get introduced to new audiences. And, first impressions matter!
Once the company’s story is pitched to the media, journalists will start doing their homework on the business, and once the company begins gaining media coverage and market presence, potential clients and customers are going to start digging into the company’s story, as well. If the brand story appears inconsistent or the company’s mission appears unclear, the opportunity to make that first impression is lost.
Although not a good time for media relations, this is actually the perfect time to reach out to a PR firm that can help strategically build out the brand story, create brand messages and devise tactics to effectively communicate about the brand to any and all audiences, including the media.
- The company makes time to dedicate to media relations efforts.
In her PRDaily.com article, Garrett referred to this point in a number of traits noted for the perfect client (willingness to make PR a priority, responsiveness, etc.), and it’s an important consideration for clients eager to launch media relations efforts for the company.
Once any client signs with us, we get to work immediately, and once we commence media relations efforts, it’s important that the client is available for input on trending topics, approvals for news distributions and, of course, for media interviews. There’s nothing more detrimental to media relations than nonresponsive and unavailable clients.
- Key spokespeople have been identified and trained.
Not only is it important to be available for and responsive to media opportunities, it’s also important (likely more important) that the right people are available for media opportunities. And, before any media relations efforts can be initiated, those people need to be identified and trained.
In identifying key spokespeople, the following needs to be considered:
- Who are the experts on the topics that will be pitched?
- What are their credentials?
- Where has their expertise been shared previously (prior media interviews, published works, speaking engagements)?
- What are they likely to say on these topics?
- Are they willing to participate in media opportunities?
- How can they be contacted?
Believe it or not, some people don’t particularly like to be in the spotlight – and it’s absolutely no fun to discover this after landing a media opportunity. It’s also not a good idea to pitch a spokesperson to the media without directly speaking to them on the topic.
And finally, spokesperson training is an essential element to media relations. It’s necessary to take the time to train key spokespeople before turning them loose to the media. So, if this hasn’t been done, hold your horses!
Spokesperson training is one of Obsidian’s specialties! We understand the value of each media opportunity earned for our clients, and therefore, we work to ensure that anyone speaking on behalf of the company has a solid understanding of the various media outlets, ways to engage with reporters and how to effectively communicate the company’s messages.
As stated earlier, media relations is a powerful tool for spreading awareness about a company or campaign, but it’s imperative that a company be prepared before pushing itself in front of the media!