Where does publicity (and PR) fit into the marketing mix?

Planned Obsolescence - New Product Stands Out
Marketing is more complicated than ever. From search engine optimization to content marketing and traditional advertising, opportunities to communicate key messages to your target audience abound.

Where does news media publicity fit into the marketing mix?

Just like social media, working with the news media is one way of getting your message out. A well-placed feature or news article can increase awareness of your organization or product.

Like other marketing vehicles, news media coverage can be very broad or segmented, depending on the media outlet.

In addition, so-called earned media coverage can help you build credibility and develop a strong brand. It doesn’t shout out, “Look at me!” in a way that other forms of promotion might. And media coverage can come at a lower financial cost than advertising, promotions, direct mail, etc.

But remember that as part of their story about your organization or product, reporters will often call customers or others in your industry for comment. What they say about you can shape the story.

That’s why good public relations — distinct from publicity — is so important. Ongoing communication with your customers, vendors, suppliers and others (keeping them informed of new developments and responding to their concerns) can help solidify a good reputation and ensure that when a journalist calls, others say positive things about your organization.

That is one of the best ways to market your organization.

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Do you need a policy on media relations?

You may think that only larger organizations need to have a formal policy on media relations. But in reality, even smaller businesses and nonprofits can benefit from having a policy.

First, a policy clarifies procedures for working with the media. It specifies the contact person at your organization for the press, as well as who should serve as spokesperson for your organization in interviews.

For example, the contact person could be in marketing and the spokesperson could be the CEO. Or, one person could serve as both the main contact and the spokesperson.

We recommend having one point of contact so journalists or bloggers know whom to contact if they would like to speak with someone from your organization.

Second, a policy offers consistency. It helps ensure that people within your organization deliver a consistent message during media interviews. Having two people within the same organization provide a journalist with different answers in response to the same question gives an inconsistent message and shows a lack of coordination.

No matter what size your organization is, taking some time to develop a media policy is well worth the effort. It can help you develop a stronger brand in the long run, and prepare you for media coverage as your organization grows.

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Are you a good spokesperson for your business?

spokesperson
Media coverage can generate greater awareness of your business and enhance your credibility (since you are being cited as an industry expert). But when the media calls, who should speak on behalf of your business?

If you have a designated communications person, that’s great. But if you’re running a small business, you probably don’t have someone dedicated just to media relations. And often, the media will want to interview you, the small business owner, anyway.

So, how do you prepare to meet the press? Follow these 3 rules to put your best foot forward:

Rule #1: Know your stuff. Because you own the business, you most likely already possess one of the most important characteristics of a good spokesperson: you know your business – and your industry – inside and out.

Rule #2: Know your audience. To whom are you speaking during the interview? You should know the audience of the media outlet. Is it a local television station that reaches the general public in your geographic region? Or is it an online trade publication that serves a more technical audience? Most importantly, know how the media outlet’s audience matches up with your customer base.

Rule #3: Know your message. What do you want your audience to remember? You should always go into a media interview with three key points that you want to communicate to your audience (and to the journalist). Emphasize those points throughout the interview by repeating them and coming back to them if necessary.

Follow these 3 rules and you should be on your way to representing your business well.

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What would a PR agency do?

If you’ve ever sought media coverage of your organization, but don’t have a big budget to spend on public relations, you could always ask yourself, “What would a PR agency do?”

Well, here’s our answer:

First, they would try to find something about your business that interests a reporter. Something that is newsworthy. For example, they might tie your business to something already in the news, or find something truly interesting about your business.

Second, they would find the right reporter at your local or trade media outlet and send them a press release or an email summarizing the story about your business. They might include a list of people the reporter could interview at your business, or perhaps customers or others who have a relationship with your business.

Next, they would draft up a list of “talking points” for you to use during your interview. These are key messages about your business, product, event, etc. that you want to communicate to your audience.

Last, they might follow up with the reporter to see if he or she needs any further information for the story. So, for all you do-it-yourself business owners and nonprofit leaders out there who wear many hats, what else would you like to know?

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Building media relationships…

building

For all of you businesspeople, fundraisers, sales and communications professionals out there, you know that in order to be successful you must do one thing really well: Build relationships.

The same is true in generating media coverage for your organization. It takes time to build relationships with journalists. But when you do, the rewards can be great. Here’s some advice to start building relationships with journalists:

Learn who covers your industry for your regional and trade media. Local print reporters often have so-called “beats” such as business, health and fitness, arts, sports, and so on. Find out who is writing about your area of expertise and follow their stories.

While some television stations have beat reporters, most broadcast media rely more on “general assignment” reporters — meaning that one day they may be covering a court room trial and the next they may be covering a fire. Regardless, be familiar who covers what topics in your local media. The same holds true for trade media. Know the major trade media outlets in your industry. Keep an eye out for who covers topics that relate to your business.

Once you have identified journalists of interest, read or watch their stories and follow them on Twitter. Keep an eye on the kinds of stories they cover and what topics interest them. This will help you tailor your media outreach efforts toward the right reporter.

Building relationships in any endeavor takes time. Begin the process with reporters by passing along items of interest, providing information about your industry, and letting them know that you’re willing to offer comment on breaking news in your industry.

Over time, the journalists you reach out to may call on you to provide context on developments in your industry. In the process, you will not only build relationships, but awareness of your organization and its efforts.

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3 questions to consider before taking that new PR job

Are you an entry-level or early stage communications professional looking to start your career or move to another job?

We’ve gathered our wisdom on a few items you should consider before jumping at that job opportunity. All of these items can affect your day-to-day activities — and your job satisfaction.

1. How does senior management view communication? It helps to know as much as possible about how the top brass views the role of communications. Do they see public relations as playing a strategic role in the organization’s growth and success, or do they see communications as a supporting role in the company’s larger sales or marketing efforts? Similarly, find out as much as you can about how management views media relations and social media. Are they willing to meet the press and put themselves (or the organization) out there on social media? Do they see value in these tools?

2. What is the organizational culture? This is basically the day-to-day environment in which you will work. Does the organization spend a lot of time planning things in advance, or does it act more spontaneously in response to events of the day? There is always an element of spontaneity in public relations — sometimes, you have to react or respond quickly to events. You have to be nimble and seize the right opportunities to obtain media coverage or get your message out to your audience. However, spending all of your time reacting and little time planning can eventually result in burn out — and loss of quality control.

3. What is the communications mix? Does the workload fit well within your skill set, yet still provide growth opportunities? Ideally, you should be familiar with the main communication tools the organization uses to reach its various constituencies. For example, if video production is a key component of the organization’s communications mix, you should be familiar with how to write a solid script and visualize a story. However, you should have opportunities to learn new skills. Along these lines, consider whether you will have a mentor who can help you learn the industry and navigate you through the organization, or if you will be left to your own devices to learn the ropes.

There isn’t any right or wrong answer to any of these questions. How you answer depends on your work style, how you learn on the job, and what makes for a satisfying work experience. Good luck!

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5 steps to get press coverage

5steps
Getting media coverage for your business or nonprofit can be difficult. Newsrooms can receive hundreds of press releases per day. How do you make yours stand out? Follow these five steps to help you get that much-coveted coverage.

1. Pick something you want to promote. Is it a product, event or cause? Is it something happening within your organization or some action you are taking?

2. Decide if you want press coverage in your local or industry media. Are you selling your product locally, or promoting something that is happening locally? Or does your outreach effort extend beyond your local region? Are you selling to the general public, or to a specialty audience (i.e., electronics manufacturers)? For specialty audiences, you’ll probably want to focus more on trade media outlets.

3. Find a news angle for your story. That means finding something to interest a journalist in your product, event, issue, etc. – whatever you are trying to publicize. Think about what makes your product or event different. For example, is your product new and does it solve a problem? Are you using some unusual materials or process to make it? Is there an interesting story behind your product? Or, are you hiring new employees (and contributing to the economy in your region)? Are you donating something valuable (including your time) to a community group? (A brief aside: For those wanting more, our main application points you to 17 different news angles – or ways to make news for your organization). When finding a news angle for your story, remember two criteria: First, your news item must be of interest to people in your region (if you want local coverage) or industry (if you want trade press). Second, you should be able to describe the effect or impact of your product, event, issue, action, etc. on your region or industry.

4. Summarize your story. You can do this in an e-mail (or better yet, a press release). Include what is happening, who is involved, where and when the story takes place, and why it is meaningful.

5. Send your story to a journalist. Send your summary or press release via e-mail to a journalist at your local or trade media who covers your region or industry. There are lots of media lists out there, but to make things easy, if you have a media outlet in mind (local or trade), look up their website and find the contact information for submitting a story. You can always call the main news desk, tell them what your story is about and ask who you should contact about covering the story. Follow up within a day or so to make sure the journalist received the info.

Write to us at info@mynewswizard.com and let us know if this helps!

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