Aug 25, 2016 | Linhart Blog, Our Business

Understanding Earned Coverage in Today’s Media Landscape

Often I romanticize about what media relations looked like before the digital age. I imagine myself calling up the local business editor. He answers the phone, cigarette hanging from his mouth, the sound of typewriters clinking and clacking, reporters pacing around the newsroom, and says, “Hiya Jake, whaddaya have for me today?” I pitch my story.

But I digress. Today, editors, reporters and producers are literally bombarded with hundreds of emails a day. Getting a reporter to answer the phone is an accomplishment in itself. If your call is answered, you better have your pitch down pat and be able to deliver the salient points in seconds. And unless you’re offering a high-value or breaking-news story, they might file it away for later. This is because editorial staffs are a fraction of the size they used to be, there’s constant pressure to drive views/readership and reporters’ beats range from sports to agriculture. At the same time, editorial teams are constantly in flux, with the regular use of freelanced and syndicated content creating an additional challenge.

While PR professionals strive to build rapport with editors and reporters, and this is often a major advantage, it is not always easy to keep in touch based on the feverish pace of their industry and ours. As difficult as the landscape can be, there is still ample opportunity to secure quality, earned media coverage. Part of success involves working with a seasoned, determined team of PR professionals, which you’ll find at Linhart PR. We always follow best practices that lead to more opportunities for better media coverage over time:

1. Find the timely hook. Making a case for why a story needs to be covered now is key.
2. Focus on appropriate length. Understand when brevity trumps detail, and vice versa, in all written and verbal communication.
3. Think like a journalist first and a client second. Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes and consider the many variables that impact their decision to pursue or pass on a story.
4. Be thorough. Research a reporter’s past coverage and areas of interest.
5. Know the client’s business. Be prepared to answer any questions that may arise throughout the course of a fast-paced conversation.
6. Make a reporter’s life easier. Be responsive and provide the resources they need to complete their story.

No matter the industry, earned media is the most credible and influential form of media coverage, and therefore often challenging to obtain. We help our clients by anticipating the media response in the planning phase; however, it’s helpful for client teams to understand the necessary fluidity of the process. We may shift our approach during implementation based on actual media feedback (or lack thereof), client industry changes, business news, etc. Sometimes it’s a multi-step process—we start with plan A, then depending on results and media feedback, we may move to plan B. If you’re considering incorporating earned media into your marketing plan but worried about proving the ROI in the short-term, our team can help you manage expectations with board members, investors, etc.


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