So you want to advertise your brand and a media house is offering you a bright and shiny deal that will help stretch your advertising dollar across digital, print and the airwaves AND throw in some editorial coverage. What an offer! If you’re getting mentioned in the news do you still need your public relations expert? The answer is yes.
Why you still need PR
Over the last few years, as newsrooms increasingly become more integrated with advertising teams, New Zealand’s media houses are offering clients multi-channeled campaigns that straddle both paid-for and editorial content across digital and traditional channels. But these ‘value model’ campaigns don’t mean there’s no room or need for traditional PR support to be part of the mix, and here’s why.
Identifying and briefing interview subjects
Editorial teams run on limited resources and tight deadlines and often don’t have the time to research the best talent or interview subject for a story. A PR expert will have already identified the talent within the client’s business and run through key messages with them. They would help line up the interview, offer up a location, organise a time for the talent to be there and any other requirements the journalist may have.
To provide richer content, the PR would have already organised a Dropbox well ahead of time complete with profile photos of the talent or supporting video. They’d also be on hand to support any last minute requests the busy journalist may have.
Knowing a client’s story
Good PRs know their clients and their story – what makes them tick and what they want to achieve. Media account teams and journalists won’t have had the benefit of weeks, months or even years of knowing the layers of a client’s story. With an eight-hour shift to turn a story (or more than one) around, reporters are pushed for time and resources. There’s just not the time to dig up the relevant data, statistics and anecdotes that a PR has unearthed in planning their campaign over a passage of time.
A PR has the benefit of spending time with the client, getting to know them and their business. They’ve talked to others in the company and their customers. Also, by looking at external factors that affect their client’s business (like changes in the sector or communities) they’re able to identify and scope out newsworthy story angles.
Relationships with media
Good PRs will have well-established relationships with key editors, journalists and producers who trust them to deliver news story ideas, exclusives or invites to product launches.
A PR with their finger on the pulse will also know what makes a good story and how to make sure that a client’s message or campaign converts to an angle that suits the needs of editorial teams.
Lisa Joe, The Selective’s PR specialist, reflects on one such campaign. As part of an exclusive advertising package the client was promised added value editorial coverage. Only problem was the news team had zero buy-in with the editorial story pitched by the sales team. In the eleventh hour, and after significant pressure was applied the story eventually got over the line, but not without the client threatening to not pay the network’s colossal fees.
That scenario wouldn’t have happened if a PR had been involved from the get-go. The PR would have pitched that same story to the editor well ahead of the deadline – and upon finding out it didn’t have legs a ten minute phone conversation would have unearthed a new angle that did. A reporter would have been assigned the story, with the PR helping to bring the talent, the messages and the filming location together without causing angst for the client and the news team.
Coverage across the country
Being tied into one media house could mean that you won’t get the same amount of coverage for your brand if an independent PR was working on the campaign.
Individually New Zealand’s two big media players (Fairfax and NZME) don’t have the country covered - there are still gaps across some regions. That means stitching up a deal with Fairfax will be at the expense of editorial in the Bay of Plenty and Whangarei, where NZME has the monopoly on this readership. Having said that, Fairfax can deliver air time through their partnership with Mediaworks and NZME can’t.
A PR will fill these gaps. They will pitch the story everywhere that’s relevant; from the regional weeklies and daily newspapers, to magazines, across digital channels and to the TV networks. People get their news from many places these days and a good PR knows who are the players in each market and how to tap into each of these channels – making sure there’s comprehensive delivery of messages from Northland to Southland.
Part of that is having the digital nose to be able to leverage social media to spread your message beyond traditional channels – not just sharing it on your Facebook page, but how to position a story so that’s its clicked, liked and, ideally, shared. Traditional media houses are focussed on just that – traditional media, so there are golden opportunities people miss.
To share is to win
All this suggests that in an age where we are all fighting for our ten cents of the dollar, and clients are still engaging multiple services to deliver one campaign, we need to adopt a more collaborative approach. It’s about learning to share with the various people being paid the other 90 cents. This isn’t the end of public relations, but it certainly is a brave new world. Find a PR who can work with media networks to leverage any opportunities for their clients – and like with any changing environment, those who get it right, will get right to the front of the pack.
For more about this topic or to get help with your company’s PR, get in touch with Emma at The Selective.