Many businesses get caught up in turning to paid media first before exploring other options because they truly do not understand the power of PR. Many companies pile PR, Marketing, Advertising, etc. into the same thing and many jobs are given a half effort. Some news outlets will tell companies that they will write more about them and give them more attention if they advertise. Guess what—that’s actually not the way to go. Most times that’s not even the case. In fact, paid media should be the last resort.
Lead with PR
If your company has news that’s newsworthy, you shouldn’t lead with an advertisement. We absolutely recommend leading with Public Relations in addition to earned media. This is important because PR companies are known for having connections, and those connections will usually run good news for free. Good news brings in traffic to the outlet’s website, so it’s basically a trade of service transaction. It’s crucial to understand that once the news is out there, it is highly unlikely that that specific outlet will run or cover the news more than one time. This reason alone is why it is so important to use the connections and earned media first before relying on going straight to the advertorial opportunities. A few hints to implementing this are:
1. Make sure you pitch the news to editorial contacts, not account executives. Most of the time the accounts execs will lead you right down the paid ad road instead of providing the free and/or more affordable options.
2. Push out company news such as new hires, award recognition, promotions, etc. This will do a good job bringing more visitors to the website.
3. Be more diligent by following up with your editorial contacts. One follow-up is not going to cut it and can sometimes seem a little insulting to the contact.
4. Pitch for a feature, but be okay settling for a brief. When you aim high and seem willing to come down off of your high horse, most of the time the other person will too. This in turn could result in a free brief.
Exhaust All Avenues
Once all options and PR efforts have been exhausted, then it’s time to explore the paid opportunities, meaning ads. It’s important to save this option for last because many outlets will shy away from writing an actual article about the news because it has already appeared—because you paid for it.
One thing to keep in mind with paid advertisements is that your target audience, and most people in fact, tend to scroll right passed ads. They would much rather see a news article or story featuring your company and what the executives think about you. It’s rare, but when you’ve got a good story, paying for coverage can actually hurt your story. Not to mention the fees and costs start building up. In our opinion, paid media should not be a huge part of a PR firm’s strategy. Understanding how journalists and editors communicate and run their businesses is the bread and butter for PR companies.
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