…what will you do with that exposure?
I often pose this question to prospective B2B clients when they ask me if I can generate exposure for their company in Forbes, Fortune, the Wall Street Journal, CNBC or some other influential media source.
They typically respond, “Isn’t just being there in Forbes (or wherever) the goal?”
My answer to their “being there” question is always NO, and here’s why:
The intrinsic value of beneficial media exposure, particularly from a B2B marketing perspective, is based on the inherent endorsement of an objective and respected 3rd party. Nearly everyone understands why positive media exposure is a good thing; it provides current and prospective clients with some comfort that they are making a smart, informed decision. The assumption: if Forbes has covered your company, it must be legitimate.
But most companies don’t understand that – even with secondary online exposure – the likelihood that clients, prospects or referral sources will take notice of the Forbes coverage, recognize their company’s involvement in it, and actually do something about that exposure…are pretty close to zero. This is never encouraging news for a company paying a fat monthly retainer in exchange for a pile of press clippings that get hung like trophies on its website.
Media placement is “credibility tool” generation. It’s a single, albeit important step in a multi-step process that BEGINS with defining a very specific business outcome the media placement will help to achieve, if the 3rd party endorsement is properly merchandised. (Proper merchandising simply means taking steps to ensure that the company’s target audiences actually receive the credibility tool, in the proper context, and with an appropriate call to action.)
Smart marketers understand this concept: that media placement is simply a means, not an end result. And here’s the toughest part of this reality for those enlightened practitioners: telling their CEO that a bylined article in an obscure vertical trade publication may yield a greater return – in terms of practical marketing application and tangible business metrics – than being mentioned in an industry round-up story in Forbes.
Business metrics notwithstanding, some CEOs would prefer the cachet of being included in Forbes. And most CMOS would prefer continued employment.