The 3 media relations myths that hurt your PR and marketing

Marketers shoot themselves in the foot by hoping, in vain, for a sensational media placement in WSJ or The New York Times. Instead, aim for more modest, but surer results closer to home, says this expert.

Marketers are asked to do more and more. Not only must we know advertising and PR, but we must understand sales and customer experience.

As marketers spread themselves thinner, media relations takes a back seat. When media relations is an afterthought, it’s difficult to stay up to date on best practices in times of rapid change. Misconceptions and failing to adapt hurt marketing, because media relations is integral to marketing.

The three myths that could hold your marketing back:

1. A steady stream of company news and press releases will interest journalists in writing about you.

What seems interesting and newsworthy to a company doesn’t always interest the press. No matter how you publicize your company’s products, benefits, differentiators, or events, it’s not likely to capture media attention.

To get media coverage, think beyond company news. Think validation, thought leadership and supporting data. To increase coverage, include customer references, third-party experts or partners, research (both internal and external), informative visuals, micro-content and access to several different company experts.

2. The biggest media relations success is an article in The Wall Street Journal or New York Times.

In almost every new business presentation or client kick-off meeting, I ask what their No. 1 choice is for placing a story. Most often, the answer is The Wall Street Journal, New York Times or another top-tier business press outlet. When I ask why, there is usually an awkward silence before the usual answer: “Because it’s The Wall Street Journal.”

Don’t get me wrong, I like The Wall Street Journal, and it has its place in a media program. But often, it is not realistic to make it the top priority, nor does it necessarily get the results you look for—beyond bragging rights.

It’s more productive to consider publications your audience reads daily. Develop stories that appeal to journalists at these publications, build trust in your audience and pitch the press only when the story and your resources justify it. Coverage in a top-tier business publication is nearly always doable, but it’s only part of a media strategy.

3. Media placements build awareness only. Results can’t be measured.

This is a common misconception among PR pros, because a ton of measurement tools exist, but none of them supply the metrics that matter for media relations.

I’ve spent a lot of time manually collecting metrics from disparate systems to report the metrics clients care about: audience, circulation or unique monthly visitors for the publication, strategic messages included in the piece, clicks or views, social shares, influencer engagement, leads (MQLs or SQLs), Google Analytics traffic spikes and referrals, etc.

I’m passionate about metrics and frustrated by metrics tools. I joke that I should quit my day job and start a media relations analysis company. Recently I came across a new media measurement company called SeeDepth that has the best tool I’ve used. Its algorithm scores media on criteria you can customize according to media and business needs. It ranks media outlets by tiers, tracks strategic messages by keywords, integrates with Google Analytics, calculates social shares and scores each media placement on all the criteria. SeeDepth plans to use its tool to track conversions, as well.

Marketers are often in a tough spot in media relations, especially when executives and board members demand to see results. Media relations is still an art, not an exact science. Marketers must stay in-tune with what journalists want. They must know what’s working and what’s not. Letting go of these three myths is a good start for shaping media programs and educating others about what success looks like.

A version of this article originally appeared on Business 2 Community.

Topics: PR

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