BY BECK BAMBERGER
The notion “timing is everything” is a proverb relevant to many aspects of business, but it is particularly pertinent to public relations in terms of securing excellent media coverage. However, timing can be manipulated so that you can extend the spotlight of your brand in the media’s eye. Below are five questions to ask yourself before embarking on a PR campaign in order to ace timing.
1. Do you have your messaging down?
The press is not a wise platform to A/B test your messaging. Media outlets are going to say whatever they wish about you, but your bets are better in the PR game if media conveys consistent messaging about your brand. The consistency of your brand’s media coverage will be strongest if every platform in which your brand is expressed is cohesive and cemented. The “about” section of your CrunchBase profile, for instance, shouldn’t be more outdated than your website’s “about” section. In addition, if you are not committed to your messaging and are still pondering its direction or tone, you should hold off on a media push.
2. Do you have assets beyond your brand to offer the media?
Your brand’s existence is often a short-lived “story.” Although media exposure can often be obtained for novel brands announcing their debut, better media exposure is earned when you can offer investor information, actual customers, use cases, data or other insights that piece together a complete story for a media contact. In a recent investment announcement for our client, SwervePay, we teed up an array of investors, current clients, and a few industry gurus for our pitch. Within 48 hours, we landed more than a dozen distinct pieces of coverage about their funding.
Bonus tip: Having an array of assets to dangle in front of the media for a story allows you to squeeze out more media coverage, even with a seemingly single story. For instance, offer one media outlet an exclusive (first rights to run an announcement), another a coveted interview with your fancy investor, and yet another with data you’re presenting.
3. Do you have the infrastructure and resources in place to handle the press?
Imagine your brand as a house on the Gulf Coast. The media can act like a Category 4 hurricane, and when it strikes, you’re going to want a house that’s more like a fort than a shack. Does your website keep crashing with just a little bump in traffic? Do you actually have the product in stock to mail to consumers? What about a person on the team who can respond efficiently to media inquiries? Of course, having a website crash because of huge media exposure is a stellar problem that many brands can only hope to experience. Don’t miss the entire opportunity (clients, partners, more media exposure, etc.) by not having your “house” prepared for the storm.
4. Do you have the time to do it well?
It’s easy to quickly copy UX, a pricing model, or the verbiage on your website. On the other hand, it’s quite difficult to replicate 20 or so earned media placements, such as an article in Fast Company, a segment on CNBC and a feature in O, The Oprah Magazine. Many of our clients use media relations as a “barrier to entry” tactic, which is only successful if there is a bundle of earned media to showcase. If you’re going to embark on a media outreach campaign in-house, then stick to it and resist the urge to be satisfied with an article or two. The same goes for a hired agency. Do not expect a few placements within a burst of a month or two, and then abandon your media campaign altogether. Sure, you’ll have media coverage, but it will only marginally be impressive or impacting.
5. Do you have your target market set and tested?
Great media strategy does not necessitate a “shotgun” approach, where any and all outlets are pitched to see what lands. Instead, a potent press plan goes after readership that maps back to your target market. Sometimes, a company is so young that a target market may not yet be clear, but your brand’s desired market should be in place. A VC would raise an eyebrow at a brand that says “anyone!” is a target user. We do the same with any potential client who touts this type of theory.
Bonus tip: If you have a solid market identified and tons of clients or users at the ready, there may be a good opportunity to survey or pull data from users in order to nab excellent media coverage. The Go Game, a fun and innovative team-building client of ours, has been around for more than a decade. There was certainly no “launch” news for us to leverage to the media, but The Go Game had a massive pool of clients and HR heads from the “who’s who” of Silicon Valley (Salesforce, Google, Facebook and so forth). We constructed a survey, had hundreds of people respond, whipped up an infographic and statistical analysis, and placed the information in a number of outlets, including Fast Company and Forbes.
If all of the above questions can be answered with a “yes,” then you’ll be well-positioned to execute on a media relations campaign.