As a former reporter, I consider media relations my PR specialty. Whether it is enterprising stories for a client, crafting news pitches and press releases, or building relationships with reporters and producers, I have made a career out of helping businesses, organizations and municipalities garnish media coverage.
I am a strong believer in the effectiveness of traditional media in almost any public relations campaign.
Simply put, traditional media works. And if done correctly, media relations has an excellent return on investment.
Yet, I’ve had clients who didn’t see the true value in media relations. I’ve had clients who, prior to hiring a public relations consultant, sent out one or two press releases a year. Ironically, those same clients were dropping tens of thousands of dollars each year on television commercials.
Trust me when I say, you would be remiss to not utilize media relations to help establish brand awareness and trust. According to a 2014 study conducted by Nielsen and commissioned by inPowered, public relations was 90% more effective than advertising in consumer decision-making. It isn’t difficult to understand why. PR is earned media, while advertising in paid media.
WHY A NEWS REPORT IS BETTER THAN A COMMERCIAL:
- Trustworthy source: When you see a commercial, you immediately know the advertiser is trying to sell you something. But that isn’t the case with media outlets. The news isn’t selling anything, it’s simply informing. That’s why people trust their favorite local news anchor. They see journalists as unbiased, knowledgeable sources of information, so when your business or product is featured in a newscast or newspaper, the perception is that your brand is trusted and respected within your industry.
- More in-depth: The average television commercial is 15-30 seconds long. An advertisement in a paper or magazine typically takes up 1/8 of the page. In contrast, one television news report ranges from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes long. A newspaper article might take up half a page or more. You are doubling, tripling or even quadrupling your exposure.
- Better placement: With today’s popularity of DVR’s, commercials are often skipped all together. But within the confines of a newscast, more potential customers or clients are likely to see your brand, business or product. Better placement equals better exposure.
- It’s cheaper: This is a BIG one. Commercial spots are incredibly expensive. In a medium-sized news market, one 30-second commercial spot during a 6 p.m. newscast will cost you more than $1000. And that hefty price tag does not take into account the cost to actually produce the commercial. With an effective media relations specialist you can see a significant ROI at a fraction of the cost.
WHY YOU NEED A MEDIA RELATIONS SPECIALIST:
- We know people: We know the right people to contact regarding your specific topic or industry. Sure, you can send a blanket press release to the assignment desk and/or every reporter in the market, but that might not get you very far. You would be better off reaching out individually to those reporters who typically cover stories within your industry. For example, you wouldn’t pitch a financial story to a medical reporter. Knowing which reporters would be more likely to cover your story takes a bit of research or knowledge of the specific news market, and that’s where a media relations specialist comes in!
- We know what will get covered and what won’t: I’ve worked with clients before that insisted on sending out a certain number of press releases each month. They insisted on sending press releases for events that would, quite honestly, never make the news. There is place for that kind of information: the Internet. Media relations consultants can help decipher what is and isn’t worth contacting news outlets. The last thing you want to do is flood media outlets with too many pointless press releases and become known as the PR person or business that cried “news.”
- We know when to pitch a story: Timing is everything when it comes to getting the media to cover your story. A great story pitched at the wrong time will still not make the news. Media relations specialists know the best days and times to reach out to a reporter or send a release.
So while media relations is just one aspect of the public relations industry, the amount of media exposure a PR consultant can bring your business is worth every penny spent.
By Melissa Smuzynski
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