How to Leverage Smaller News Organizations for Brand Building

No one denies Elon Musk is a brilliant entrepreneur but when it comes to marketing and brand building, he’s made several mistakes that would destroy most budding startups.

Twitter has lost more than 72 percent of its value since Musk took it over, and renamed it X. Luckily you can’t destroy your brand like Twitter if you’re a startup. That’s because no one has heard of your company. But, there are missteps you can make that will hinder your brand building.

Over the years, I’ve watched a few CEOs, entrepreneurs and CMOs turn down media opportunities because they thought the news organization was too small. In some cases, they made those decisions based on the news website design.

It sounds rational on the surface. Make something scarce and it becomes more valuable. But that logic doesn’t apply to branding, especially for early stage startups. Unless you’re Jeff Bezos or Marc Lore, you shouldn’t give exclusives. Your job as a founder is to get as much media exposure for your startup, and as quickly as possible.

What a News Website Reveals

Lastly, don’t judge a news organization by its website. A few months ago we secured a radio interview with the #1 morning news talk radio show in South Florida. Their website is bad, but their audience is captive. Those drivers aren’t going anywhere.

In addition, MSN, Yahoo and other publishers frequently pick up stories from these smaller news outlets under their syndicated deals. I’ve watched local NPR content on clients go viral after the search engines syndicated the story on their home pages. This is exposure your startup needs.

If you want to hear more about building a startup brand (rather than destroying it like Musk), you can read my Entrepreneur article on how to better leverage smaller news organizations.

ABOUT MACIAS PR

Finance Monthly named MACIAS PR the 2017-2020 Strategic PR Firm of the Year, and PR Firm of the Year. This was the third year in a row that Finance Monthly recognized our firm. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He’s a PR contributor with Entrepreneur and Forbes, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice. City & State Magazine named him a 2024 top Political PR Player in New York.

How Generative AI will Disrupt PR and Media

OpenAI just took another huge leap in content creation with the ability to create videos from text prompts. This is going to dramatically and quickly disrupt the world for content creators, publicists and journalists –  but not in the way you might suspect.

A few years ago, I wrote an article for Forbes that predicted AI wouldn’t replace PR. Generative AI will definitely streamline content creation and steal jobs from creators, but there isn’t enough quality data for AI to create an actual media strategy from scratch. Without quality data, AI doesn’t have the information to create a timely strategy. In the case with news, most data would become outdated with each passing news cycle.

Machine learning is great for analyzing data and predicting behaviors on the macro level, but creating a business or media strategy for most industries requires an intimate knowledge of processes, history, trends and emerging technologies that can expand market share. Machine learning needs that valuable component that is missing in PR and news.

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Important News Elements for Media Coverage

How far will you go for love? Would you peel an orange for your spouse or girlfriend if she asked you for an orange? The Wall Street Journal explores that question today and it provides several PR lessons for brands trying to get media coverage.

I’m rarely a fan of tying news stories to monthly awareness campaigns because those marketing calendars rarely align with editorial calendars. But Valentine’s Day is one of those holiday exceptions. If your service or product has a connection to love, it can be rocket fuel when tied to Valentine’s Day.

I’ll go on a limb now and predict this WSJ story will go viral by the end of the week. Here’s why:

*The story is unique.
*It provides fun conversation.
*You likely haven’t heard this story before.
*It’s tied to love, and Valentine’s Day is Wednesday.

Emerging Trend with Influential News Organizations

This article supports an emerging trend I am seeing with the influential news organizations, including the NY Times, Washington Post and WSJ. Their reporters are integrating TikTok and Instagram elements to support their stories. In many cases, the social media content isn’t even timely but the content gives the reporter the timely element needed to sell it to his/her editors. Adding social media content to your pitch can help with the reporter’s sell to his editors.

One more important observation.

Editors and Reporters are Measured by their Story Reach

When I was a new Executive Producer with NBC in New York, I knew I had one year to prove my value or I would be pushed out the door. Today, a reporter’s reach is evaluated just as much as his editors.

Here’s proof. A few years ago I worked with Rep. Norma Torres and we got her editorial placed in the Washington Post. The opinion editor emailed me a few days later and asked if I could encourage her to share her editorial on Twitter. He was candid, “I’m not seeing traction with her story.”

And that brings up the final point. If your idea doesn’t have broad appeal or potential for virality, your campaign is at another disadvantage. Find ways to implement or sell that virality in your story.

If you apply these approaches to your next publicity, you will have a better chance for coverage. If you need help finding timely elements or angles, reach out to us here and we can schedule a strategy call. #alwaysfreshpr

ABOUT MACIAS PR

Finance Monthly named MACIAS PR the 2017-2020 Strategic PR Firm of the Year, and PR Firm of the Year. This was the third year in a row that Finance Monthly recognized our firm. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with Entrepreneur, CNBC and Forbes. City & State Magazine named him to their 2024 Political PR Power List in New York.

Client Case Study – Former UN Executive Secretary

Media campaigns for politicians can be some of the most difficult campaigns to run. Journalists are skeptical of politicians, knowing they are pushing an agenda. No reporter wants to be a tool for propaganda. 

This is why every political campaign must have a solid news angle. Not a marketing message or campaign narrative, but an editorial angle.

MACIAS PR has run media campaigns for Congressional candidates across New York, Virginia, Arizona, Illinois, Oregon and California. With all of these campaigns, we secured local and national media coverage for these candidates by identifying news angles that were timely and topical. 

In 2022, MACIAS PR took an international jump on the global stage by representing the former UN Executive Secretary on Climate Change.

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How the Wrong Media Strategy can Hurt your Business

Selecting the right PR agency can have a long-term positive or adverse impact on your business, so it’s important to do your due diligence. The wrong media strategy can easily set your organization back by 6 months to a year. And here’s how.

The news cycle always puts an emphasis on “new.” If your agency spends 6 months drowning in a narrative that doesn’t get traction, you lost that timely element. This will put your next agency at a disadvantage.

We experienced this with a campaign we ran for a wearable device. The client’s previous PR agency failed to get them coverage at CES. This made our campaign’s more difficult since every reporter asked what was new from the previous year. Despite the obstacles, MACIAS PR still succeeded in getting them on the NBC Today Show, as well with others. (Click here to see that case study)

So how do you identify the best publicist for your business? Here are some common mistakes I’ve seen over the years as both an Executive Producer with NBC and owner of an agency.

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How will Newsroom Layoffs Impact PR?

Stories about newsroom layoffs used to be relegated to trade publications, but these journalism job cuts are now becoming part of the news. If you thought it was hard to place a story with the media before – suit up: it’s going to get even harder.

This new economic landscape is going to require different skills to navigate shrinking newsrooms. Many of the producers and writers you might have relied on in the past might be gone. It’s one of the reasons why I always say media contacts are not a strategy; they are an assist. Journalists know their editorial acumen is under the microscope and all ideas will be scrutinized more in that morning news meeting. No one wants to pitch a story that is half-baked or not ready for coverage.

So how can you adapt to the changing media landscape?

Ensure your story package is complete. Don’t add unnecessary resources or time to a reporter’s job. Make it easy on them. Get that character lined up before you pitch and don’t force the reporter to think about how to frame the story. You might not get additional time for follow-up questions if the reporter is juggling 5 stories at once. The bar to coverage will be lifted and niche stories will be the first to get rejected.

Media Coverage Will Shift Towards Harder News in 2024

I’m also predicting the media will take a shift towards hard news in 2024. With upcoming elections at both the local and national levels, newsrooms will want to run more timely and hard-hitting angles that don’t give any hint of opinion. Soft news stories are the first to get rejected when resources are tight. If your client doesn’t have a hard news angle, look deeper and ask more questions.

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Another Crisis Brewing for Elon Musk and Tesla- How to Respond

Most people know Elon Musk is controversial but he’s close to igniting a new crisis with one of his most passionate and loyal groups of Tesla followers.

I wrote an article in Forbes a few years ago that detailed warning signs your brand is about to blow up and a crisis is emerging. If ignored, your brand becomes ripe for a crisis. This latest media coverage on Tesla is a clear warning sign to their stock owners who worry about pricing pressures and future EV sales.

Tesla owners are one of the few remaining groups who have stuck alongside Musk even after his divisive tweets, controversial statements and media comments. The media is now beginning to circle around Teslas that can’t charge in the cold, leaving drivers stranded. Chicago media was all over this story last week, calling Tesla charging stations “car graveyards.”

Another article in the global publication, The Express, is taking this communications crisis to a higher level. The story interviewed angry drivers who had to wait in 45-minute lines in Brooklyn and Queens to charge their vehicles because of a charging station shortage.

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City & State Magazine Names Mark Macias to PR Power List

USA, January 22, 2024 — The award-winning PR agency, MACIAS PR, has announced that City & State Magazine has named its founder Mark Macias to their 2024 Political PR Power List.

City & State Magazine is a premier multimedia news organization that covers New York local and state politics and policy. Every year, the publication recognizes and ranks the top PR agencies and publicists based on the firm’s size, reputation, clients and impact on the New York state political sphere.

In the words from their article, “What unites them is that they all are consummate PR pros.”

Macias is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He founded the agency in 2009 after a successful journalism career at the local and national levels. 

“There are many larger PR agencies on this list, but that’s not who we aim to be,” said Macias. “We have no desire to become the biggest agency with the largest client roster. We just want to be the best PR agency, develop long-term relationships with our clients and deliver consistent results with the media.”

MACIAS PR has led media and branding campaigns for clients across tech, politics, health and nonprofit industries. But places a larger emphasis on health care. Noom, Meru Health, Lifesum, WellRx, Columbia University Medical Center, Burke Hospital and Kilo Health are just a few of their more prominent health tech clients.

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Case Study – Noom Media & Branding Campaign

Back in 2016, the weight loss program Noom had little national name recognition despite being popular with consumers. However, the media tide shifted when MACIAS PR took over their publicity after their previous PR agency failed to deliver.

This case study delves into how MACIAS PR successfully elevated Noom’s presence in the media as a digital health coach.

From the start, our team faced challenges, including the need to differentiate Noom in a crowded weight loss market. Mark Macias, the founder, devised a comprehensive strategy outlining the stories to be told and the media outlets to target.

Within the first month of collaboration, MACIAS PR secured a story with CBS News, highlighting how Noom’s mobile app helped pre-diabetics and diabetics manage their conditions. Over the next three years, this success was followed by hundreds of stories appearing on various major platforms, including NBC Today Show, People Magazine, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, CNBC, PIX 11 in NYC, CNN, Fortune, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur, New York Post, and more.

MACIAS PR also helped expand Noom’s reach with Spanish consumers by placing stories with Telemundo and Univision.

B2B and B2C Media Campaign

Besides the B2C focus, Noom also had a B2B service targeting HR and providers. MACIAS PR developed a tailored B2B strategy that secured features in outlets like MobiHealthNews, The American Journal of Managed Care, Fierce Biotech, FW Pharma, Med City News, among others. All of these stories emphasized how Noom as an employee benefit was saving the companies money from a health care spend perspective.

Measurable Results from Media and Branding Campaign

In 2018 and 2019, Google named Noom one of the top-trending diet terms in their annual “Year in Search Report.” This increased search exposure was a direct result of our media coverage.

Fast Company Magazine also recognized Noom as one of the Interbrand Breakthrough Brands in 2017. Most notable, Noom did not have a Chief Marketing Officer during the entire time we worked together. Our media and branding strategy came from our time working directly with the founders.

Media Exposure Helps with Fundraising

Our media campaign also helped support Noom’s fundraising goals. MACIAS PR conceptualized angles that resonated with reporters and investors, showcasing the digital health company as a top disruptor in health tech.

Despite the challenges of obtaining media coverage for investment rounds, MACIAS PR successfully navigated and ensured Noom received extensive and positive exposure. Our PR team secured media coverage for Noom’s $58 million investment round with outlets like TechCrunch, Fortune, Entrepreneur, and AlleyWatch in 2019.

Media Trained Founders and Spokespeople

Throughout the partnership, Mark Macias media trained the C-suite for all media interviews.

For a more detailed case study, please reach out to us. We can share a more in-depth case study that reveals even more successes from our 3+ year relationship with Noom. You can also get a PR estimate by clicking here.

ABOUT MACIAS PR

Finance Monthly and ACQ5 5 – an international industry award – named MACIAS PR the 2017-2020 Strategic PR Firm of the Year, and PR Firm of the Year. This was the third year in a row that Finance Monthly recognized our firm. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with Entrepreneur and Forbes, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.

Client Case Study – Media and Content Campaign for Lending Organization

MACIAS PR led the publicity, social media and content marketing for Provident Loan Society from June 2014 to June 2019. Our media strategy introduced their alternative lending services to new and existing clients across the New York metro area. 

Over the course of our partnership, MACIAS PR helped grow their customer base among college students, business owners, immigrants and consumers with no credit. Their former CEO and CMO both credited MACIAS PR with increasing their revenue and growing their customer base by 50 percent among Latinos. You can read their testimonials on Linkedin.

Our media campaigns also introduced their services to consumers who speak Spanish and Mandarin via targeted outlets covering those communities.

Targeted Consumer-Facing Media Campaign

MACIAS PR led the entire media campaign from conception to execution. Our team identified stories of interest and reframed them around news stories.

Our media coverage included stories with: CNN, New York Post, ABC 7, FOX5, NY 1, PIX 11, Metro New York, Crain’s Business Magazine, Univision, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine and others.

Digital Marketing, Social Media and Content Creation

In January 2017, MACIAS PR took over the content marketing for Provident Loan. Our team searched for trending topics on Google and social media, and created content that positioned them into the conversation.

Our approach had an immediate impact on their web traffic, growing it year-over-year from 2017 to 2019. This increased web traffic began showing up in the first month.

You can review the case study by clicking here. Or if you’d like to schedule a call to discuss more, click here.

ABOUT MACIAS PR

Our founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. City & State Magazine named him a PR Power Player in New York in 2024 and 2022, while marketing peers named MACIAS PR the 2017-2020 Strategic PR Firm of the Year. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, Finance Monthly named MACIAS PR the Financial PR Firm of the Year.