Companies hire public relations agencies to they feel their business deserves. In many cases, the viewpoint seems to be: “The bigger the publication or media outlet, the better.”
Sure, an article or mention in an outlet with a large readership would be a great win for any company, and there’s no harm in having big goals.
However, I’ve found, many companies (as well as artists/individuals) that hire agencies or press agents expect coverage by media outlets that are sometimes out of their league or not as relevant to their company as they think.
Why does this happen so often?
Many high-level executives are focused on what’s going on in their company, so much so that they aren’t reading the relevant publications or influential blogs that they want coverage in.
They sometimes throw out a name of a flashy, respected ‘publication or blog they’ve read once or twice’ or watched a talk show once and think they should automatically be there.
Below are a few questions you should ask your clients and notes that can help everyone get on the same page when it comes to expectations about media targets for their business:
Are You SURE You’re Ready for Top Tier Coverage
We’ve all had those clients that beg you to help them get coverage in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Fast Company or some other equally authoritative publication.
Of course, it’s important to tell them you want that for them too, and will get it if/when it makes sense. I encourage you to tell them they need to step back and ask themselves what makes their business a legitimate fit for that outlet.
Ask them why they think the journalist at that outlet, and their readers, would find their story compelling.
Both you and your client must have a clear understanding of the publication, its readers’ expectations, and its journalists, and you should be able to clearly articulate how what you’re doing as a company affects their beat and why it matters for their readers.
Are You SURE You’re Newsworthy and Relevant
Media outlets vary in the level of detail they require about companies. If you read those publications regularly, which you should, you will know if your client is newsworthy for their readers and should articulate the business elements their readers expect.
For instance, a company that won’t release key financial info isn’t going to get coverage in the Wall Street Journal, but a trade publication might not require it for an article.
Are You Ready For the Competition
Warn your clients that their competitors will be mentioned in articles written by the big media outlets. They shouldn’t flip out.
They’d already know this if they were reading the publications themselves. What credible business or trade publication covers a company and fails to mention the competition? Not any that we pitch.
When your client gets coverage in a big roundup or industry trend piece it’s OK to be compared to competitors because by the time they’re mentioned it’s because you’ve built a compelling story that shows off the company’s position in the market and its value proposition.
Your and your client have a bigger problem if you’re afraid of being compared to your competitors.
Are You Able to Talk About Industry Trends
When you secure an interview with a publication your client covets, they need to know what else is going on in their industry so they can speak about it intelligently – NOT just about what’s happening within the walls of their company.
We know it’s hard not to get tunnel vision when a client is focused on building their business, but you don’t want your client to be left tongue tied when asked about a trending topic.
As PR pros, our job is to get clients covered where the right audience sees them in the best light and most credible context.
It’s our job to know whether an interview in a trade publication that’s not a household name is worth more to a client in the long run than wasting time pitching other publications simply because the client wants to be covered in them.
Remember: You’re not alone. Here’s a video that can help break through the discomfort of telling executives that familiarizing themselves with media will help everyone get closer to the coverage goals they want:
This video is part of “PRactical Guide to Publicity,” a video series that teaches C-Level executives—especially CEOs and CMOs—the true benefits of strategic PR.
Since these executives are often times the ones hiring public relations professionals, this series was created to help those without a background in PR understand the ever-changing media landscape and what agencies are here to do.
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