Tag Archives: #media merchandising

Stop the Insanity. Fire Your PR Firm in 2014.

The attribution is unsupported, but Albert Einstein is often credited with the quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.” Its source notwithstanding, the axiom applies perfectly to the great number of companies that retain PR firms, year after year, to generate publicity that will have little or no impact on tangible business outcomes.

Over the past 5 decades, to rationalize hefty monthly fees, the PR profession has successfully promoted three underlying assumptions:

  • Any publicity is good publicity.
  • The more publicity, the better.
  • Publicity generates revenue.

Here are just a few reasons why it’s insane for most businesses to base their marketing strategy on any of those assumptions:

  1. Lots of Media Exposure is Worthless. The “worthless media” category can include one-off quotes or mentions in round-up stories that also reference your competitors…if you’ve gained no unique mindshare.  It can include appearances on network and cable TV…if the topics have a short shelf-life, or are unlikely to be of interest to target audiences.  And it always includes exposure in advertorials (regardless of the sponsoring publication’s stature) and feature articles in pay-to-play vanity publications…because you gain no credible 3rd party validation.
  2. Counting Media Clips is a Zero Sum Game. PR firms often justify their value by the sheer volume of media exposure they generate…regardless of whether it stakes out intellectual territory, supports a client’s value proposition, or differentiates them in the marketplace. The goal should be to create an arsenal of effective credibility tools; not simply to generate clippings to hang like hunting trophies in the “Media” section of a website.  This zero sum game is also played in social media, where scorecards of “likes” and “followers” are used as hollow substitutes for meaningful business metrics.
  3. It’s All About Merchandising. Business leaders must address two key questions in advance of seeking any publicity: “1. What type of media exposure will benefit us most?” and “2. If we gain that exposure, what will we DO with it?” Responses to Question #2 must provide clear direction regarding how it will support the firm’s sales and marketing strategy; how it will be used to drive leads; how it will initiate meaningful conversations with clients and prospects; and how it can be leveraged to gain other opportunities for targeted exposure.

Most PR firms fail to deliver on the potential of their craft because performing it correctly requires really hard work, takes time, and demands accountability for business results. Your role as a responsible client requires that you hold your PR agency’s feet to the fire by expecting results that have a measurable impact on your company’s balance sheet. It also means that you must provide your agency with the time and guidance necessary for them to deliver something more than a pile of useless press clippings.

If you’re unwilling to make that commitment, or if they’re incapable of delivering on your expectations, then it’s time to stop the insanity. Fire your PR firm in 2014.

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Are You Wasting Money on Publicity?

The Value of Publicity is Based on 3 Key Factors

Every year, companies waste time, money and opportunity generating publicity that accomplishes little or nothing in terms of tangible business outcomes.

Here are a few hard truths regarding publicity:

  • Your audiences are unlikely to notice the exposure, or do anything about it.  Even with content shelf-life driven by intelligent SEO management, there is simply too much information, too many online and offline media sources, and too little time in the day for your customers, prospects and referral sources to read, see or hear your message. And if they do get your message, there’s often little motivation for them to act on it.
  • Publicity volume does not translate into business results.  A single high-value media placement that’s properly merchandised often has greater impact than a pile of press clippings. In fact, publicity for its own sake is often unfocused, with no connection to the company’s underlying value proposition or core messages; generating confusion and apathy among target audiences.
  • Some types of publicity have significantly greater marketing value than others. The old PR adage that “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” may work for Lindsay Lohan, but it has no application for companies that care about their brand. To calculate the media placement value of various types of publicity (see chart above), Highlander Consulting uses three key criteria:
  1. BRAND RISK – If you have little control over how your company’s reputation or intellectual capital is presented – such as in a feature story where a reporter or editor will seek to produce “balanced coverage” by presenting negative items or including a competitor – then the publicity has inherent brand risk. (Value Scoring: +1 if you have total control over content; -1 if you have little or no control.)
  2. CREDIBILITY – Often called “masthead value,” this factor is based on how well the media source is recognized and respected. The potential value of the publicity is based in large measure on the underlying credibility of the source, because the exposure supplies an inherent 3rd party endorsement. (Value Scoring: +1 if the source has strong credibility; -1 if it has low credibility.)
  3. MERCHANDISING POTENTIAL – This often overlooked factor is sometimes mistakenly called “reprint value,” but Merchandising Potential encompasses far more, relating to how easily and how broadly the media exposure can be leveraged to support and drive specific marketing goals. Simply posting publicity on a website does not deliver a high ROI.  (Value Scoring: +1 if the publicity has a range of applications; -1 if it’s limited to one or two.)

Using this ranking methodology, and as reflected in the chart above , bylined articles and OpEd pieces published in credible sources typically deliver the highest marketing ROI; while inclusion (being mentioned or quoted) in a round-up news or feature story does not score well. Most home-grown efforts, such as self-published press releases, have very little value.

By using this formula, or a similar methodology, to evaluate the potential ROI of individual publicity tactics, and by building media and marketing strategies around only high-value activity,companies can consistently make the connection between publicity and tangible business results.

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