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 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! 

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.

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