Although some people fear the media as a potential enemy, it can prove a very powerful ally if your B2B marketing team knows how to approach it strategically. Answering some key questions, a B2B marketing expert will be able to build a strategy to help you collaborate effectively with the media specialists so that your message gets delivered to your targeted audience. First of all, you have to establish why you need the media coverage and what your news is. Find out which are the best ways to interact with the press and how you can measure the results of this collaboration.
1. Why do you need media coverage?
The objectives of your organization will indicate the proper media strategies. Do you want to create awareness for your social program used for the benefit of the community? Do you want to promote a certain type of behavior or attitude? Do you fight to change a law? Answering these questions will help you and your B2B marketing expert identify whom you want to contact and which are the best media channels to do that. For instance, some parents have different habits of reading and watching TV from the members of parliament.
2. What is your news?
Quite a few times what we find interesting and captivating about our activity can make a reporter doze off. The news broadcasting channels have their own criteria by which they judge the value of information, so in order to get their attention you have to present your message in an attractive way. Try to hold on to a current event: a recent news story, a congress or a celebration. Present national news through a local angle. The media is very interested in the news talking about a conflict state, in the ones of human interest or that contain superlatives like “the biggest”, “the best” etc.
3. What kind of media coverage do you want?
The term “media” refers to the different communication channels – radio, television, magazines, newspapers. Each of these channels offers opportunities to get to your target audience with a different type of message. If you want to make sure that your message is rendered as accurately as possible, you can even consider sending an article to a newspaper, as a leading article, where you can expose your personal opinions. It is true that the news format gives you better exposure and credibility, but you will have less control over its content and the way it is stated.
4. Whom from the press should you contact?
The key to implement the communication strategy is that your information gets to the right people from the right places. First, make a list encompassing all TV and radio channels, the magazines, the newspapers and news agencies from your area and on a national level that you want to collaborate with. Then call the editorial staff and find out which editors are responsible for your domain of interest. Ask what are the deadlines, how they prefer to get the information (by telephone, fax or email) or if you can send articles written by you.
5. How do you contact the media?
Once you have identified a press contact list, start establishing a profitable collaboration with the journalists, before selling them a story. Write to reporters and producers that work in the domain you are interested, in order to give them feedback to the topics related by them and to offer them information about your company. When you have news or an event that needs promotion, send a press release with the most relevant information to the contacts in your list. Then call them when the event is almost to take place. Many media organizations have tight deadlines so ask if you can still fit within the deadline before making them any proposition. Be prepared to offer supplementary information and show as much enthusiasm as possible about the subject when explaining to them why this is news of interest.
6. What have you got to offer?
Remember that the media people need collaborators like you to help them fill the newspaper pages or the news broadcasting space. You know the subject, have ideas for interesting stories and have access to the people that are the subject of those stories. Thorough information like financial results or an event chronology will help reporters have a quicker understanding of the subject. The more ‘pieces’ of the story you can offer the reporters – examples of people affected by that subject, experts, copies from relevant studies – the higher the chances are that your story appears in the media. If you want to be on television, make sure you can provide video images that will support your story.
7. How to react when the media is looking for you?
Even if you don’t look for them on purpose, media representatives can look for information or ask your reaction to certain news. When that happens, don’t panic! Choose someone from your organization that is laid back in handling press relations and that has the authority to talk on behalf of the organization. Always be honest and, if you don’t know the answer to a question, say that. Find out what is the reporter’s deadline and whether you can call him back to give him the answer or indicate other sources he can talk to. Speak as plainly as possible, without any professional jargon phrases and repeat your message in as many ways as possible. Once they consider you a trustworthy source, the media will continue contacting you for similar topics and will be more receptive to your own ideas for topics.
8. What media strategies can your current resources support?
Although it is believed that news appearances are free publicity, press conferences, press releases and press kits are not at all cheap! The invested resources and your team’s efforts make this media coverage to be a successful one and not a free one. But, comparing the cost of these activities with that of a media campaign/buying advertising space, selling a story seems like a real bargain. Of course, there are also situations when you have to invest in such campaigns if you have the resources. Anyway, make sure that your organization has the ability to answer the media requests if the strategy you have chosen was successful.
9. What other free publicity sources are there in your community?
Many cable companies offer production spaces or broadcasting time on the local channel; with little money, you can develop programs on different topics. Local radio and TV channels are often looking for guests that have interesting stories or are well-opinionated on themes of local interest. Also, by collaborating with other companies, you can promote your message through less conventional channels, like supermarket shopping bags.
10. How do you know if your strategy was effective?
Analyze again the chosen media strategy. Did you reach the objectives laid on the piece of paper? You can use the services of a monitoring agency that will provide you with detailed reports about the press appearances of your organization. If your aim was to increase the number of clients using your services, look at how their number has evolved from the beginning of the campaign through to its ending. Then analyze; did the press end up treating you like a trustworthy source? Has the level of attention in the community for your promoted subject increase? You can register the performances on several levels, so make sure you verify all of them.