When it comes to branding, there isn’t a more powerful tool available than media relations. In the words of our Key Adviser, Randi Minetor:
Media relations is the bread and butter of PR.
But why? What is it about media relations that ranks it above other branding tools, like social media management and graphic design?
And what exactly is media relations anyway? Is it the same as social media? Are the two related at all?
What is Media Relations?
Media relations refers to the process of securing media placements to show off a brand, along with its products, and services. In the event of a crisis, the firm will also serve as an adviser to the client; as well as a liaison between the client and the media.
Behind the scenes, media relations involves the process of identifying and building relationships with gatekeepers to the media. Gatekeepers include journalists, editors, and key influencers. It may also include partnerships with complementary brands in the market.
What does it Share in Common with Social Media?
Entrepreneurs who have little experience working with public relations firms, may confuse media relations with social media management. While the two functions do overlap, they are not interchangeable.
So what’s the relationship? Social media is a useful avenue for finding and building relationships with gatekeepers to the media. Social media is also useful for distributing the products of media relations initiatives.
For example, a company would announce on social media when they get featured by Forbes, or are listed as one of the top companies in their niche.
Thus, social media is the engine that drives media relations, and its accompanying distribution channel. But social media can not replace a good media relations strategy.
What Makes it so Powerful?
When readers and clients ask for proof of why media relations is so powerful, we first point to our recent feature in an NBC News blog post: How to Use Instagram to Lose Weight and Get Healthier (Really!).
You don’t have to be a PR guru to understand the PR value of an honorable mention from a reputable news source. But what of it?
What are some of the more tangible and objective benefits of media relations that make it the bread and butter of public relations?
Before working with a client, one of the first questions we ask, is whether credibility or visibility is more important to the client. A wise entrepreneur understands that credibility is always paramount.
Credibility requires qualifications. This may come in the form of a college degree, professional certification, or industry experience. But equally important is a vote of confidence from already established and reputable sources.
Receiving placements and credit in the media, positions a brand as the credible industry expert, by providing that vote of confidence through association. This is especially important for non-profit organizations, as it gives donors peace of mind.
Thus, media relations can help to provide key references to boost the public’s confidence in your brand; as well as the products and services it offers.
Though credibility is always the most important, visibility follows close behind. A credible brand will usually attract a crowd on its own. But why accept a few sales per month, if your brand has the capacity to take on even more?
While portraying a brand as an industry expert, media relations reminds potential buyers, I am here. This helps to position the brand at the forefront of buyers’ minds; boosting lead generation, lead quality, and sales.
High quality media placement thus acts as a form of advertising, and may come at no additional cost to the brand. The gatekeepers to the media are always looking for new, unique and thrilling content to report.
Your brand’s job is to be the next best thing.
Provides Bragging Rights
If you’re a seasoned freelancer, a B2B company, or work in the lifestyle industry, then you may be familiar with the term “social proof”. These are the professional bragging rights you include in your sales pitch.
One way companies share their bragging rights, is by posting on social media. Others announce this on their blog, or in a newsletter. We are guilty of all of the above.
Another way clients show off their bragging rights is via the “As Seen On” footer on their websites and in ads. This highlights all the major websites and news agencies that gave them an honorable mention.
Popular brand names you’ll see on lists like these include CNN, Huffington Post, and Forbes.
Why do companies do this? To convince you that if these major brands are paying attention to them, so should you.
A wise company never launches a new service without beta testing it, first. Thus, we were the experimental guinea pigs for the month leading up to our product launch.
We were paid in turn with a welcome but unexpected benefit: improved search engine optimization.
How did that happen? Simple. The more credit and back links we received from reputable and credible businesses, news agencies, and media publications, the greater the “vote of confidence” we received with Google.
This moved us a whopping 12,000,000 places in Alexa ranking in just 2 months. No, you didn’t miscount the zeros. We really just said 12 million!
For us, this means better search result rankings with Google, and therefore more website traffic coming from this source. Since all three of our websites are linked together, they have all enjoyed the climb up the Alexa charts.
Protects the Brand
When planning for a business and building a PR and marketing strategy, most companies focus solely on building the brand. Few companies also consider the flip-side of the coin: what to do if the brand breaks.
What happens if the business burns down? If someone is hurt on property and sues the pants off the company? If a high-profile dissatisfied customer trashes the business to thousands or millions of fans?
What about if the business runs out of funding, and goes under? Or if you happen to be the club, movie theater, or restaurant targeted by a terrorist?
What then? Are you prepared?
PR firms help to protect the brand by:
- assessing the situation,
- formulating a strategy,
- crafting a suitable message for response,
- dealing with the media so the company doesn’t have to,
- and even training company reps to manage the heat.
This is called crisis management, or crisis communications.
Too often do clients wait until a business is in hot water, to seek PR assistance. The better we know your brand when you’re thriving, the better suited we are to shield the brand and ensure its recovery, when it’s not.
The All-Encompassing Service
Is it any wonder why we laud media relations as the bread and butter of building a brand?
There is no one service that so readily encompasses all the traditional and modern PR tactics to achieve the most important goals of PR and marketing: reputation management, visibility, and sales.
If you’re interested in learning more about media relations at Alexis Chateau PR, then shoot us an email to speak directly me.
About the Author
Alexis Chateau is the Founder and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.