For most businesses, the importance of media relations and its counterpart public relations is often forgotten.
When budgets are tight media relations is often the first thing to be bumped. It is viewed as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must-have’. This should not be the case.
When executed correctly media relations is a vital tool in helping to propel your business and help it to grow to new heights. It allows your business to reach new audiences including both potential customers and investors enabling your business to become a recognisable name in your field. Building great media relations doesn’t need to be a daunting challenge. Having the right tools at your disposal to research and reach out to your media contacts can make relationship building that bit easier.
This article aims to give you a detailed look at just why media relations needs to be one of your top priorities if you want to grow your business. We will focus on the importance of it for:
- Lead generation
- Brand awareness
- Employee satisfaction
What is media relations?
Firstly, it’s important to have a strong understanding of what is meant by media relations. Media relations and public relations are not the same thing. While public relations deals with a company’s communication with the public (this can be the consumers, the media, other brands), media relations deals with a company’s communications with the media specifically. Media relations focuses solely on a brand’s strategic communications with media outlets. In media relations, companies use the media to broadcast their message and story.
The ultimate goal of great media relations for a company is to get their name in the media on a regular basis. You should be aiming for monthly coverage and published pieces. Developing strong media relations will help you achieve that. Media relations is just one of the key PR avenues you have at your disposal and one you need to utilise to grow and develop your business.
1. Lead Generation
Lead generation is the developing and cultivating an interest in your brand that eventually leads to conversions i.e sales. So what better way to start developing the interest of potential clients and customers than having your company and key messages mentioned in the media. Building great media relations helps you to do it.
A study by Neilsen showed that earned media (publicity of your company through promotional efforts rather than paid advertising) lifted brand familiarity 88% more than branded content (content that is funded or paid for and produced by an advertiser). The study showed that earned media was the most effective source of information in impacting consumers along all stages of the purchase process across different products and brands.
Put simply, brands that actively engage in media outreach and seek to build great media relations will likely see a greater consumer impact over brands that rely solely on content marketing as a means to raise awareness. These findings remain consistent today as customers, no matter how much they try not to be, are impacted and influenced by the organic content they read, listen to and watch in the media.
For all businesses, whether you are a start-up or established, big or small, your investors are one of the key groups of people you want to impress. Investors can play a key role in the growth prospects of most companies as they can provide access to capital which can fuel growth. This is true for both current and potential investors. Current investors want to know their investment is succeeding. They want to know that they have wisely invested money into a company and will see a positive return. Potential investors are influenced by what they read, see and hear in the media. Great media relations allows potential investors to come across your company naturally.They spot you in the publications they read and it piques their interest. They become aware of who you are, what you do and what you have to offer.
From reading an article or seeing you in the news they quickly understand your message and can become encouraged to reach out. Investors want to invest in a company they think will be successful, and being in the media shows you are a company that is heading in the right direction, particularly if the references relate to innovative offerings or stories about growth.
Whether investors like to admit it or not they are influenced by the media. It’s your job to place yourself in the media so you can influence them, making it a little easier if you have to raise some additional capital to support your growth objectives.
3. Brand awareness
When your company, product, service or CEO are mentioned in the media it is regularly perceived as a genuine endorsement. For example, if you are a tech company and you are mentioned in TechRadar Pro or invited on to BBC News Business Live you are effectively being endorsed by the biggest players in your industry. Your target audiences, who are watching and reading, think “that company was featured in TechRadar Pro, they must think it’s a good brand, I’ll have to check it out”. People will trust this media coverage and will be more willing to engage with your brand. Whether they are googling you to find out more about you, following you on social media or getting in touch with your company, they are engaging with your company.
Positive media mentions of your company also help current customers engage with you. They see that you are being endorsed by the publications they follow and want to join in the action. This can result in customers reviews, positive engagement on social media or even word of mouth sharing about your company. All of these subsequent actions following your company being mentioned in the media result in your company getting more attention and continuing to grow.
4. Employee Satisfaction
When thinking about media relations and why it is great for your business, the effects of it on your current staff isn’t something that immediately comes to mind. However, positive media relations can have a big impact on employee satisfaction and morale. Employees love seeing the companies they work for getting positive press. They love seeing their company’s name in the media.
This often results in employees getting positive feedback from the people in their lives who matter most to them. Their mum might call and say they saw a story in the paper or a friend who mentions a story they heard on the radio about the company. This positive engagement and employee pride results in increased employee satisfaction. They enjoy working at a company that is well-regarded among its peers and that is doing well.
We’ve seen it first hand
Here at MediaHQ we have had first-hand experience with how beneficial this process can be. Over the years we have built up great media relations with a number of journalists in our field. One example of this resulting in the growth of our business came a few months ago when our CEO was invited onto a national radio broadcaster to review the Sunday newspapers. This invitation came following months of engagement and interaction with the producer of the show.
During his time reviewing the papers, our CEO was able to speak about our company and naturally bring it into conversation giving the audience an insight into what we do and who we are. He also mentioned our Storyteller’s Manifesto, a physical booklet we produced that aims to give companies the start they need to find their perfect story. Following the show we saw a record number of requests for our booklet, with a number of great business leads being generated from the requests.
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How to do it?
To start your media relations you need to reach out to the media. You need to make them aware of who you are, who your company is, what you do and why they should be interested. This first introduction is where you position yourself as someone they need to know. The first contact can range from simply sending an introductory email or making an introductory call to pitching a story or pitching a guest blog post for their publication. In the first contact always offer something. Make sure they know you are available to speak or write on certain topics. You need to make it clear you will be an asset to them.
Target the right publications
Finding and targeting the right publications and the right media contacts are two vital elements of any successful media relations strategy. Firstly you need to identify the publications you intend to target. A keyword search to see what publications regularly write about your topic is an easy way to get started.
Make sure to do your research here; look at the publication dates, the type of content they publish, how engaged are their audiences and what their circulation figures are like. Knowing the answers to these questions will make sure they are the right publication to meet your overall growth requirements.
Target the right media contacts
Once you have identified your key list of publications you now need to know the right people to contact. This list of media contacts will be an integral part of building great media relations as these journalists will become your go-to people to build awareness about your company and broadcast your message. Find the right people for your company in each publication, the person who covers your topics and knows your field just as well as you do.
Search through the media contacts for the publication and identify the journalists you want to target. It also pays to do some research about them and their work. Know the types of pieces they write and build that into your conversation with them. Journalists appreciate people who have done their research. The more you know about the pieces they write the easier it will become to build rapport with them and start establishing that great relationship.
Now you have your media lists and media contacts in check it’s time to reach out and start generating positive media relations. As already stated, do your research. Know the publication inside out, what they write about, how often they publish, who their staff are, what are their interests. Then send an email. Or even better, pick up the phone. Introduce yourself and your company and explain why the journalist should be interested in you.
Watch how to build a media list with MediaHQ in less than 2 minutes in our video.
These conversations should be regular. Don’t let months go by without contact. You should be consistently reaching out to your media contacts to build great relationships and get your message into the media. You can do this by regularly sending in a story about your company or offering to write a guest blog post. To do this you need to make sure your content is newsworthy. Focus on establishing your authority on the topic and how it is relevant to their audience.
A few simple ways to do this is to:
- Say something no one else is—take a new approach on a current topic, find a new angle and say something no one else is. Positioning yourself as a thought-leader means you will either say something people have been thinking but not articulating or something they’ve never thought of before. Either way you will say something newsworthy.
- Position yourself as an expert—if there is a news story about your field or on a topic you know a lot about, who better to speak about it than you. Contacting the media and giving them your expert credentials will mean they can call on you when they need a voice on a given topic.
- The media loves facts and figures—numbers catch the attention of readers. They also serve as another proof point that your story is substantial. If you’re celebrating a milestone anniversary or moment for your company be sure to include as many numbers as possible. How many people do you employ? How have sales grown? How many customers do you have? Find a statistic relevant to the news and incorporate it into your pitch or press release.
Make your offer whether it is a guest blog posts, interview offer or press release media worthy and difficult to say no to.
So when it comes to why you should be focusing on building great media relations to help grow your business here is what you should remember:
- Investors are influenced by the media—it’s your job to place yourself in the right publications in order to make yourself known to the right people.
- Earned media provides more leads than paid—building great media relations can help more people buy your product or service.
- A positive media story is one of the best endorsements you can get—build your brand awareness and engage with your customers through the media.
- Great media relations helps boost employee satisfaction—remember you’re doing this not only for those outside your organisation but also for those within it.
MediaHQ is a world-leading media contacts database and press release distribution tool. The software helps the world’s top PR and communications teams connect their stories with their audience