The media has shortened all of our attention spans.
Consumers are used to paying attention to just about anything for eight minutes, then there’s usually a commercial. Websites have mere seconds to grab a visitor’s attention before that bored visitor moves on to another website. In a car, drivers and passengers often switch the radio station the moment they hear an ad.
But if you think media consumers don’t pay attention for long, just imagine the attention spans of the people whose attention you want if you’re looking for publicity.
Those media gatekeepers are inundated with pitches, articles and other information that they must sift through to find something they believe will be worthwhile for their readers, viewers and listeners. And they often have to do it on a deadline, which means they can’t devote much time and attention to any individual pitch that comes their way.
So if you’re seeking media exposure, don’t just give it one try and give up. The best chance of having an impact is to stay in front of the media.
After more than 25 years in the business, I can tell you that getting momentum in a PR campaign is more art than science. While I can use my experience to speculate what I think will resonate with the media, the truth is that it’s nearly impossible to predict with 100 percent accuracy what the media cares about from day to day. We get it right about 80 to 90 percent of the time, but then there’s that remaining 10 to 20 percent, which can be like throwing dice. You never know how it’s going to land.
On occasion, we’ll send an article or media pitch we’re certain is a home run and we get a chorus of crickets. Sometimes in those cases we wait a week or two and send the article out again. Suddenly, the topic no one cared about is a hit!
Other times, we send out an article or pitch that we worry is as thin as rice paper, but the media absolutely loves it from the get-go!
So how do we deal with this phenomenon that what’s a home run one day is a strikeout another day? And how can you grab momentum for your publicity efforts instead of getting stuck in a PR version of quicksand?
- Understand the news cycle. On a slow news day you can have surprising success with the most mundane of topics. But at other times even the most fascinating and newsworthy of pitches can’t seem to get anyone’s attention. News doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Whether something will pique the media’s interest can depend on what else is happening around the same time. For example, for two weeks the Republican and Democratic conventions dominated nearly everything. It was a monumental task trying to get the media to show interest in anything that wasn’t related to Donald and Hillary. In these cases, be patient. We’re already seeing better success for our clients now that the conventions have finished dropping their balloons!
- Don’t ditch that pitch just yet. My best advice for anyone engaged in a PR campaign is not to assume that if they send out one pitch or one communication and get no response that the media isn’t interested in the topic. Maybe it was the timing. (As in those news cycles mentioned above.) Or maybe a different editor or producer will get the pitch this time. Or perhaps there’s breaking news that links in someway to your pitch and expertise. Before giving up on it, try tweaking the subject line so that it’s as relevant as possible to the media you’re pitching. Remember, you’re in competition with hundreds or thousands of others vying for the same attention.
- Capitalize on your successes. When you do land a radio interview, get featured on TV or end up in print, don’t just let your success sit there. Promote your media exposure on your website. Mention it on social media. Make the most of it because that’s how you establish your credibility to the media as someone whose opinion is valued in your area of expertise.
Ultimately, you just have to keep navigating the media terrain, understanding that each day represents a new opportunity and that once you have momentum you’ll want to keep it.
If you let up, you risk sinking back into the quicksand.
P.S. If you need professional help getting your message out to the media, give us a call at 727-443-7115 ext. 215.
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.