Each morning (of course, after everyone has had their first cup of coffee!) our team assembles in our conference room for a meeting that includes a little brainstorming mixed with reports on how well things are going with our clients.
This is the time when we tackle some of life’s thornier questions, such as: What do you do when a major publication wants a client’s comments for an article, but the article’s focus doesn’t really relate to the client’s core message?
Often, a client will say: “I pass.”
Just as often, we say: “Not so fast!”
We encountered just such a scenario this week and I’m happy to report that we were able to explain our reasoning to the client’s satisfaction. The result? The publication got what it wanted and our client and his company were cited in the news. But this comes up often enough that I think it’s worth sharing some of that reasoning with you.
First, let me be clear that we don’t want to waste any client’s time. Occasionally, when media opportunities are flowing in, we may have to do a little PR triage as we figure out which interview requests should get priority and which ones may not be worth the time and effort.
But when it comes to the top-tier newspapers and magazines, we are rarely inclined to forgo an opportunity, even if the reporter’s angle is a little off topic for the client. Our philosophy is that if it’s something the client has the expertise to provide insight for, then they should take advantage of this media moment.
So here are a few of the criteria we use as we make decisions on which media outlets to pitch a story idea to or which interview requests to honor:
- Does it cast a wide enough net? In a sense, the PR world is a lot like fishing, except that we’re after publicity for our clients instead of mullet to toss on the grill for the weekend cookout! If you’re out on the water for a day of fishing, you’ll obviously catch more and bigger fish if you cast a big net instead of a small net. That’s what we like to do, in most cases, with articles or radio pitches we send out to the media. Judging which interviews to arrange for clients can work the same way. Usually, the bigger the media’s audience, the more inclined we are to jump at the opportunity. But size is not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes the audience is small, but is the perfect demographic for a particular client.
- Does it enhance your digital presence? By now, most people are aware of SEO and how getting your name out into the digital world can make a big difference. To a degree, appearing in just about any online publication helps because your potential customers or clients aren’t the only ones that conduct online searches. Journalists do, too, and are more likely to turn to you as a source if they see that other publications, even small ones, have already given you some validation as a legitimate voice in your industry. All of that can build on itself and eventually the first search results that come up when someone Googles your name could be articles from USA Today, the New York Times or other major publications.
- Does it add to your credibility as a go-to person in your field? The article’s focus doesn’t have to align perfectly with your message for the interview to help build your credibility. Sure, in a perfect world the two would mesh seamlessly, but in the real world it can be enough that you end up with being quoted in major press. That media appearance serves as a third-party endorsement, so once the article appears you should do as much publication name dropping as you can.
So yes, your time is valuable and if you become a high-demand source for the media you may be able to pick and choose which requests you respond to and which ones you decline with a polite “no.”
But if you haven’t yet reached household-name status, you’ll want to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can! J
P.S. If you’d like professional help getting interviews with the media, we’ve been arranging interviews for our clients on radio and TV, and obtaining editorial coverage in newspapers and magazines for more than 26 years. We also offer a comprehensive social media marketing program for select clients, where we do it all for you. If you’re interested in our help, please call us at 727-443-7115 Ext. 231. We’d love to hear from you!
Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity.