Kate Finley

Traditional Media Relations and Real Measurable Results

By: Kate Finley | June 19, 2013 | 

Media Relations Today I am here to argue the case for media relations.

Amid the ever-present search for better measurement tools, and recent emphasis on the importance of content marketing in PR, I feel this old friend has started to get a bum rap.

While it’s true traditional media can be an excellent tool for increasing awareness, my stance is it can also be a valuable, measurable way to increase leads and sales.

So, I ask you:

  • Is media relations a good investment for your brand?
  • Should media relations be a part of your marketing strategy?
  • Should proven media relations expertise be a requirement as you choose a PR firm?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer those questions right now.

First, let’s look at evidence supporting my case, in the form of two mini case studies. I’m using two recent media relations examples – one from a client, and one that I experienced personally – to fuel the fire of debate.

Let’s explore …

Mini Case Study #1: Pure Sweets – Local Media Relations

Pure Sweets is a boutique vegan, organic, kosher, and gluten-free bakery based in Philly (and, full disclosure, as I mentioned above they’re a client of mine – but it’s a fab case study!). Since opening it’s doors in 2009, they worked with a large PR firm, paying beaucoup bucks with no media coverage to speak of from month-to-month. Disillusioned, they ended their contract with the PR firm, and decided media outreach might not be a good fit for their brand.

Eventually, they decided to work with a startup communications agency that approached them. The agency promised strategic media outreach, consistent placements each month, and had experience in their industry. They also brought fresh ideas to the table. So, Pure Sweets decided to give media relations another try.

Within the first month of engaging with the smaller firm, a hyper-targeted media placement for Passover was secured in the Philadelphia Inquirer in print and online. Sales spiked within a day of the placement, and continued to soar for two weeks after. New customer relationships were established, and the brand now has long-term sales growth and repeat customers.

All from one story.

Mini Case Study #2: Belle Communications Launch – National Media Relations

As a part of the marketing strategy for launching my new business, Belle Communications, I made media relations a priority within my marketing plan. To help announce the launch, a placement was secured in the CNNMoney.com small business section.

The feature was displayed on the site’s front page, and is still housed on the main page of the small business section to date. This opportunity generated a 700 percent increase in site traffic the week the story went live. It continued to bring considerable traffic to my site weeks after it was shared online, and increased my e-newsletter opt-ins by 110 percent.

More than that, it generated fifteen RFPs, nine ongoing new business relationships, a brimming pipeline, and two new clients all within a month of the coverage.

Not to mention it also increased Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin followings, and produced a number of networking opportunities.

The Verdict: Media Relations CAN Move Beyond Impressions into Measurement

Look at those measurable outcomes! Not too shabby for media relations, eh?

Media relations can produce tangible, measurable results if strategic, targeted, and executed well. But the question remains, is traditional media relations a good fit for your brand?

Questions to Consider Before Launching a Media Relations Campaign

How will you measure results?
I gave some real world examples within the two case studies. Think: Sales, traffic, new leads, e-newsletter opt-ins, RFPs, etc.

Do you have the proper tools and channels in place for measuring those results?
This is super important and often overlooked! Do you have a clear call-to-action on your website? Do you have a way to capture new leads like an email opt-in or other incentive?

Where is your target audience?
You can secure an ‘amazing’ story, but if it’s not where your customers will see it, it’s of little to no value. What is your target audience reading, listening to, and watching? Where are they spending their time and what are their habits?

What are your SMARTER goals within media outreach?
Think: Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound, and don’t forget to consider how you will evaluate and reevaluate your goals.

How is media relations part of your overall marketing strategy and not a silo.
Just like the other members of the marketing mix, media relations is not a stand alone tool. It should be thoughtfully integrated into your overall marketing plan.

Has media relations generated tangible results for you or someone you know? Do you think media relations is ‘yesterday’s news’? Leave a comment and let’s hash it out! 

About Kate Finley

Kate Finley is the CEO of Belle Communications, an integrated marketing firm based in Columbus, Ohio, where she helps CPG brands and startups with PR, social media, and content marketing. She is a media relations expert, leading teams in executing more than 1800 media opportunities for industry leading clients, with coverage in NBC News, TODAY, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and other top media influencers. She’s a Paleo-eater, half-marathoner, and recently acquired a taste for CrossFit.

  • susancellura

    Hi, I’m thrilled you wrote this post. We all get starry-eyed when it comes to the great number of tools and widgets that make up the vehicles for social media. (“Squirrel!”)
    I agree with you that media relations is one piece of a marketing plan. Everything that makes up a marketing plan is just one piece of the overall plan! I think people sometimes forget that. 
    A recent experience with a younger colleague made me cringe and I hope you will indulge me:
    A product launch is coming up and she stated that she had the news release under control. In the spirit of “team”, I started asking questions about it so that I could implement the rest of the plan at the right time to help make the launch a success. I kid you not, the response was, “Oh, don’t worry, I just have to send it out to a news list”. 
    My jaw dropped (in my mind), as I thought, “but what about the relationships with editors and journalists I have been building, etc.?”
    I’m working with the team to help steer the boat correctly as the launch date draws near, but the point I wanted to make is that YES! Media relations does matter!

    • I wish I could say that the experience you had with your younger colleague was isolated but we know that is unfortunately not the case. It is reassuring to know that we can make a different by demonstrating that in media relations, like any speciality, you get what you put into it. Stay the course!! 🙂

  • Great post Kate! I agree with what you and  susancellura  said – it’s a piece of the marketing plan. I think people struggle with how or what to measure. It’s something I’m weak in and am learning more and more about so love love love that you included that in this post. 
    Susan, I cringed when I read that your colleague said she just had to send it out to a list too! Luckily she has you to show her how it’s done 🙂

    • I think we get too close to things and too used to doing the same old thing because it’s been “working” when really we’re just comfortable. I bet you know much more about measurement than you give yourself credit 😉

  • Great post, Kate! I’d like to call attention to your advice of deciding how you are going to measure your results, and underscore that this must be done BEFORE you begin pitching. You say this, I just think it deserves to be emphasized! Again, great post. 🙂

    • Thank you! Yes, before, before, BEFORE. The old adage of ‘pitch first ask questions later’ is absolutely not accurate.

  • I agree with you Kate. I have done some of this even though my focus is sales/marketing. Brands need to know that the media needs content to fill pages or video time. So why not make it be your Brand?
    Great case studies. Wish more people would show proof of concept.

    • Thanks, Howie! It’s true. As PR professionals, we literally have a hand in helping to curate news. It’s a exciting but it is a responsibility. We have to make sure that we’re actually pitching news. When you do your research, have actual news to pitch and target the right outlet, that’s when the magic happens.

  • I don’t think it’s “yesterday’s news.” It’s (media relations) going to happen whether you direct it or not (in my opinion, in the current environment). It makes sense to get ahead of it and think through what you want your message to be and what your end goal is. Thanks for an informative piece.

  • sherrilynne

    I didn’t know that anyone thought that mainstream media coverage can’t drive sales. Anyone who says that is wrong.

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