For reasons often directly related to justification of a PR firm’s monthly retainer, many corporate websites are littered with press clippings featuring one-off quotes from its executives. Although this popular genre of “Hey look at me, my name is in the news!” visibility can feed corporate egos, the exposure seldom moves the needle, in terms of tangible business outcomes. Here’s why:
- The likelihood of target audiences seeing your quote is close to zero. Given the increasing volume of on- and off-line media noise, and because most people are surface readers, getting people to notice a quote buried in the fifth paragraph of a story is akin to getting on camera while sitting in the bleachers at the Super Bowl. More importantly, even if your quote does get noticed, it’s even more unlikely that readers will either remember it or act on it. In most reporting, quotes from sources simply support a premise the reporter is making; they’re not intended to make the sources look smart.
- The marketing value of your media quote is absolutely zero. In media coverage that includes quoted sources, typically more than one source is featured, and those other sources often will be competitors. Having a competitor or two quoted in your media coverage will either kill or greatly reduce its merchandising value; meaning the piece cannot be leveraged as a sales tool. To address this issue, some companies extract or isolate their executives’ quotes to remove references to competitors, but this practice of “selective transparency” does not reflect well on the organization’s integrity.
- Promoting one-off media quotes can devalue your company’s brand. Here’s an acid test: Do well-known, much quoted companies – McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, General Electric, SpencerStuart, for example – feature one-off media quotes on their websites? Or (God forbid), do they write press releases announcing that one of their executives was quoted in the media? A quick way to label your company as “bush league” is to base its media strategy around building and promoting an inventory of media exposure consisting of one-off quotes.
If your company is seeking to leverage media exposure to gain 3rd party endorsements, and to establish bona fide thought leadership, one-off media quotes offer a highly inefficient way to accomplish those goals. More effective media placement strategies involve company profiles, interviews, bylined articles and OpEd pieces…the type of exposure that shines an exclusive and relevant light on a company’s intellectual capital, and that can be converted into powerful sales and marketing tools.
The challenge in pursuing a media strategy based on steak rather than sizzle is that the underlying content requires focus, thought and effort, and that the coverage is much more difficult to attain. Companies and their outside agencies must decide whether their media strategy will be based on short-term ego gratification, or on long-term, meaningful brand exposure. At many companies, that conversation never takes place.