The importance of media relations in an organization
Some business owners may question the importance of media relations in an organization because it can be challenging to see the value it provides. Let’s explore why media relations might be a valuable strategy for your business to explore…
First of all, what is media relations?
Public relations is all about using communications to build relationships with an audience. Media relations is a discipline within PR that focuses on building relationships with journalists, resulting in strategic media coverage.
Many big businesses will have a public relations or communications department built into the organizational chart.
Other businesses will outsource media relations work to PR firms that are more familiar with a region’s media landscape.
A media relations professional is responsible for successfully delivering publicity ideas to targeted media publications.
This involves clearly identifying your target audience, knowing how to develop newsworthy story ideas, developing a targeted media list and delivering your ideas effectively to journalists.
Media efforts should be targeted towards specific audiences
Media relations is strategic. PR professionals do their best to gain coverage in publications that their organization’s target audience reads/watches/experiences.
This used to be more challenging to do because there were limited traditional media channels to pitch ideas to. It can be difficult to segment specific audiences in traditional media because the editorial content serves the interests of a broad audience.
Nowadays, PR professionals can deliver publicity ideas to bloggers and social media influencers who engage very specific audiences with shared interests. That being said, remember to only pitch relevant stories to your media contacts or risk developing poor relationships.
It’s also possible to drive traffic directly from these digital media channels to a business’s website, increasing the likelihood of a media placement generating sales leads.
Related: How to get published on niche blogs
Objectives of media relations
Media relations work should always be done with a clear objective in mind. Sure, it’s impressive to have your business published in a reputable magazine. But it’s a waste of time and resources to generate that media coverage if it doesn’t move your business closer to achieving its objectives.
Here are some possible objectives your business may consider for its next media relations campaign:
Increase brand awareness
It’s beneficial for your audience to be aware and well-informed about your business/products/services. Here’s why:
It’s incredibly important at the very least for a business to have its products/services included in a potential customer’s decision making process. It doesn’t matter how value your product is, if people don’t know about it, they won’t be buying it.
Studies show that increased brand awareness can positively influence a consumer’s purchasing decision because they use mental shortcut, known as heuristics, to simplify decision-making.
That’s why you see so many automobile commercials. You could argue that most consumer vehicles compete fairly evenly with each other (similar price, features, styles, etc.). But one major difference is the level of brand awareness during the purchase process.
With that being said, here’s my advice:
Be strategic with brand awareness.
I see a lot of businesses use brand awareness more as a vanity metric than anything else. All they care about is getting a large volume of impressions, even if those impressions don’t result in anything meaningful for their business.
Only use vanity metric, such as impressions, as part of an integrated measurement plan. They often don’t provide enough information alone to clearly evaluate a campaign’s success.
You see this a lot with agencies. They deliver a media campaign for their client which generates massive impressions. Impressive, eight? But those impressions are completely useless because they don’t help that particular business move closer to its objectives.
Reputation is basically a measure of how positively people view an organization. The more positive the sentiment, the more “reputable” that organization is perceived to be.
Why might this be important?
Like I mentioned before, I only advocate doing things that help a business achieve its objectives. So the question becomes, how do you link a business objective to improving reputation?
Here’s one example:
An energy company must obtain landowner approval before drilling exploratory oil wells. In this case, the business objective might be to discover commercially viable oil pockets by drilling multiple exploratory wells. In order for this energy company to obtain drilling permits, these landowners must approve – which means they must view the organization and its proposed activities in a positive light.
Here this energy company might use a variety of communication strategies, including media relations, to improve its reputation with landowners, promoting the success of the business’s objectives.
Media relations can be a great way to generate new leads for your products/services. Think about it this way:
The media is a reputable source of information to their audience (in most cases). So when these influencers discuss your business and its products, their audience will be more likely to visit your site. This is especially effective if you can secure media placements in highly targeted publications related to your business’s audience.
Thought leadership is positioning yourself as a go-to expert in your field. An organization can benefit from this with increased audience engagement, new business opportunities and enhanced authority.
Publishing thought leadership content on your own website is obviously a wise strategy because it allows your audience to access all of your expertise in one place. However, media relations can be used strategically to begin establishing your brand and help you build an audience.
An emerging thought leader can begin building a brand by publishing his/her ideas in targeted media publications.
The image above is an example of an expert building thought leadership by gaining publicity with a guest post in the media.
Benefits of media relations
Media relations work is valuable because it provides organizations with increased visibility without having to pay for it like you would with advertising. One possible downside is that your organization ultimately has no control over what the media will publish. Your best efforts may result in no coverage at all, or even worse – negative press.
We have already stated the importance of media relations with regards to business outcomes. But here is one of my favourite digital marketing benefits:
Media relations is good for SEO
Digital media relations is also a great strategy for gaining authoritative backlinks which are important for organic search. Here’s how:
Digital marketers employ search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to rank websites higher in search engines, such as Google or Bing. This helps drive organic traffic to an organization’s website.
Backlinks, which are links directed from another site to yours, are an important aspect of every successful SEO strategy. It just so happens that digital media relations is an effective method for gaining backlinks from media sites. If done correctly, a media relations professional can gain high-quality (or high authority) backlinks that will significantly boost a site’s SEO performance.
The importance of media relations in 2017
The importance of media relations has changed as a result of the available communications channels as well as the ways people digest information. Here are some important things to be aware of in 2017.
Citizen journalism is when an ordinary person published journalistic content, much like a media organization.
Technology has given everyone a voice. Anyone can create a blog or post content on social media. What’s interesting is that many of these “ordinary” people have been successful at generating huge audiences for themselves.
In fact, some of these citizen journalists are more sought after by media relations professionals than some of the big traditional media outlets we’re accustomed to. As a result, it’s important for media relations professionals to recognize this shift and think about how they might use it to their business’s advantage.
You are your business’s least credible source
Are you more likely to trust a salesman’s pitch or your best friend’s recommendation? Most likely your friend, right?
The reason for this is because we’re pretty good at seeing through people’s intentions. It’s in a salesperson’s best interest to sell you their product, whether or not it actually provides you value. Whereas your friend has no benefit for making that recommendation.
What’s the importance of media relations?
Media relations is all about having someone else (a journalist or other content publisher) talk about your business. This provides your business with more credibility and helps build trust more quickly with new audiences.