By Mark Macias
Managing expectations in business is a critical component to keeping clients happy, and it’s no different with PR. If a client expects 1 or 2 media placements a month and you get 5 inquiries, they will be ecstatic. But if they expect 10 placements and you secure only 5, it’s going to be a difficult conversation.
I had that difficult conversation today with a new health tech client.
Our media outreach started 2 weeks and 3 days ago. During this time, we secured two interview opportunities for their CEO (one takes place tomorrow), two requests for editorials from healthcare trades, a reporter asking to try out their platform, and 7 inquiries from other outlets, asking for more details on how their solution works.
I don’t share this to brag. I’m writing this because I didn’t manage the client’s expectations.
Despite media inquiries from – Forbes, Fierce Healthcare, Pharmashots, Popular Science, Pharmacy Times, StrictlyVC.com, Dot.LA and editorial requests from HR.com and Benefits Pro – the client told me at the end of our call today, “we need to reassess because we have a lot of wins and losses.”
“What are these losses?” It’s less than 3 weeks and we have a long list of reporters asking for elements.
Media Placements Rarely Happen Overnight
I’ll stick with more examples from this campaign because it has lessons for any case study. This startup spent time debating the actual public announcement of their launch.
“Should we launch on a Thursday or 4 days later?”
I’m a straight-shooter. It doesn’t matter whether the announcement is released on a Thursday or a Monday because the strategy is a longer-term play. And that’s not reading tea leaves. I made that recommendation based on 13 years of running this PR agency, and my time as an Executive Producer and Senior Producer in New York.
If you’re trying to sell a story to the larger and more influential media publications, it will take time to assess the value of the story. Writers need to sell the story to their editors, and get approval. Producers need to pitch their Executive Producers. And even when the story is approved, the editorial calendar plays a role on scheduling. A story is rarely published in 24 hours, and that includes online news outlets.
You Need an Angle – Not an Announcement
Unless you’re Facebook announcing a name change, or Apple releasing a new product, an announcement rarely gets coverage. If you’re a big brand, timely announcements matter. But if you’re a startup or smaller brand, you need to identify an angle to sell the story.
It’s a little harder to give guidance on finding the right angle because news is nuanced. Each story is personalized based on the elements. But I can tell you what an “angle” isn’t.
An angle isn’t a history lesson or information on a problem. It’s bringing a problem to light, or putting history into context with an idea that is relevant today.
If you’re trying to get publicity for an announcement, you have to identify the angle first and position your announcement into that story.
Targeted Media is Good; Broad Media is Better
A lot of potential clients tell me why they want to only target one specific trade publication or medium. And I get it. On the surface, if clients are in a specific industry, you want to reach them via the trades they read.
But that approach shouldn’t disqualify alternative or broader outlets.
For example, years ago, our firm ran a few media campaigns for hedge funds and private equity firms. Most of these CEOs only wanted to reach the hedge fund trades.
In one situation, we secured an interview with the business editor of the New York Post. Unfortunately, the CEO turned down the request because he said it wasn’t a publication he wanted. To paraphrase, “my clients don’t read that tabloid.”
I’ve been inside newsrooms with NBC, CBS and American Journal, as well as regional TV newsrooms in Arizona and Florida. Those writers and producers aren’t reading the weekly hedge fund newsletter. They’re reading the daily newspapers in each region.
Yes, producers with CNBC and Bloomberg do read the FT and NY Times, but in that morning meeting when they are all pitching ideas, they aren’t reading those in-depth publications. They’re flipping through the tabloids or skimming the news on their phones. But if you get a story in one of those publications they’re skimming, you’re just pitched another reporter without knowing it.
The takeaway? Don’t limit your exposure out of the gate. Your potential clients do watch CNN and read their community papers – in addition to the trades.
If you narrow your targeted audience too much, you are tying the hands of your publicist. And if your publicist’s hands are tied, any story or campaign will be at a disadvantage on day 1 and day 17.
ABOUT MACIAS PR
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. The 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 Political Power Player in 2021.