We've never met an entrepreneur who didn't want more – and better – media coverage of their company.
The only trouble is that getting media attention has always been a difficult task and remains so. While a founder may be incredibly pumped up about her big idea, latest product or new startup, journalists and bloggers tend to get excited about different things.
Whatever 2014 looked like for your brand in terms of media coverage, here's hoping next year is even better. To this end, here are four ways to ensure your business gets more, and better, media coverage in 2015:
1. Ensure your PR function is creating newsworthy content that is connected to your company and its products. Across our client work in 2014 we noticed that media were more sensitive than ever to 'providing free advertising.' Pitching media on company profile pieces is not likely to get results unless you're doing something incredibly unique. Since most firms are not that cool, it's important to think about how a business can create news value via content that speaks to broader trends.
Dell is an example of a company that did a good job of this with its Global Technology Adoption Index. Yes, Dell makes technology products but by spearheading a study about a wider phenomenon, and then deftly rolling out the results across multiple integrated channels, it was able to gain a significant amount of earned media. Hubspot's State of Inbound Marketing and TrojanOne's Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study are other examples of content campaigns that are not overt sales jobs and provide reams of fact based, shareable raw material for media, and the wider public.
Even if you run a smaller operation, there are organizations and/or other firms you can partner with to create content that addresses macro issues related to your industry, and provides fodder to journalists. The key is to understand that the story cannot always be about you directly.
2. Tie part or all of the PR function's compensation to something other than time. Whether you work with an agency or have someone in house who is responsible for PR, they should be paid (at least partly) based on outcomes – not time. Many agencies still bill PR on a straight cost per hour model, which is strange since hours are a measure of time, not business goals.
Moving away from the antiquated time for money model is not difficult. By way of a simple example: if you decide that earned media placements are important for raising top-of-funnel awareness, then compensate your PR function or agency (at least partly) based on the volume and nature of the coverage they help generate.
3. Think in terms of trends. Most organizations have difficulty with this when it comes to generating earned media as they're used to thinking about their products, services, new hires, etc. The trouble is, in our experience, few products, services and (especially) new hires are newsworthy in and of themselves. Think bigger and beyond your organization's activities. Make sure your PR function is tracking broader trends and regularly considering how your activities, products and customers' behaviour fit into them.. Thinking in this manner is often easier said than done – but media love it.
For example, the fact that your company moved offices is probably not going to be newsworthy to media. But if you can show that your business is one of many businesses relocating from the suburbs to the downtown core because of changing employee lifestyles, your story becomes more compelling to media.
4. Data-driven journalism is growing. Feed the beast. Producing content based on, or driven by data is not new. However, a confluence of factors including big data, open data and the way humans consume content on the web have propelled data driven journalism to new heights in recent years.
It goes without saying that firms must be careful when sharing sensitive information with the media. However, there are likely opportunities for your organization to generate good coverage by getting the right types of data to those journalists and bloggers who tend to publish data driven content.
Your PR function should have a solid understanding of what type of data your company collects but also what impacts your customers. These can be packaged into studies, whitepapers or web friendly formats like infographics that media can either use or cite in their own content. Check out some of the things Forrester Research does with its studies for an example of this.
Jackson Wightman is the founder of PR and marketing agency, Proper Propaganda based in Montreal. Borjana Slipicevic is a senior consultant at the firm and is based in Vancouver.