Whenever a business is in the news that is not an advertisement we call that earned media. Many times, people refer to this as free media vs. paid media. The word “free” is a misnomer as a earned media is not as free as we may think it is. Earned media requires significant manpower from start to finish.
By Jeff Cheatham, TrizCom PR
Having a successful career in public relations today takes much more work and dedication than it used to. And if you don’t know why, you should. Reporters, editors, producers, contributing writers, bloggers, key influencers and the remainder of our vital contacts in the media are shrinking exponentially. Those who remain are busier than ever. At the same time, public relations firms and PR people continue to multiply. The window of opportunity for getting earned media placements often seems like reentering the earth’s atmosphere in a space ship—the timing and calculations have to be just right. Too shallow, you’ll skip out into space. Too steep, and you’ll burn up in the atmosphere.
Which brings me to the point. PR professionals should train themselves to trade places with the media. Not literally (although a 24-hour stint wouldn’t hurt), but figuratively. There’s a reason that the number one piece of pitch advice from the media is always the same: “Tell me why it’s important to my readers.”
Now you’re going to learn how to trade places through an excellent recent example I experienced. I happen to work with an incredible client, Dillon Gage Metals. They’re an international wholesaler of gold, silver, platinum and palladium. Collectively, their subject is precious metals. And there are a lot of other precious metals firms around the world. Conversely, as you might surmise, there are not a lot of precious metals reporters. However, the ones who do cover the topic for the Associated Press and Reuters are extremely valuable media targets. Which brings me to my case study.
At the beginning of February, something interesting began brewing in the gold market. After months and months of steady price declines, the yellow metal began to reverse course and climb in value. Before it was over, a mini “Gold rush” occurred, sparking immediate investor interest from Wall Street to China—and everywhere in between. I desperately wanted to get my client in on the conversation. And to do so, I traded places with the media contact I intended to pitch. Call it a Zen-like moment, an out-of-body experience or a transcendental exercise. But I paused and tried to imagine what her day was like. And I got chaos. Pure chaos. I pictured endless phones ringing, people shouting, papers flying and an editor standing over her shoulder screaming about two deadlines already missed.
I didn’t want to send her another clichéd pitch. Instead, I decided I wanted to help her. Badly.
So I sprang into action. Reading through a few news accounts on the sudden flurry of activity in the precious metals market, I quickly coalesced a few key questions for my client contact at Dillon Gage Metals to answer:
- What kind of demand in volume are you seeing today vs. one year ago?
- Who is buying and placing orders--individuals or institutional investors?
- What is causing the rally in the gold market?
- Will the rally last?
I got my answers, typed them up in a neat Q&A format and emailed the coveted reporter, offering my content to her for the purpose of assisting her reporting. Guess what? It worked like a charm. And how do I know that? Because in her reply, she explained that she was completely swamped, unable to keep up with news updates, phone calls and emails (presumably, many of which were clichéd media pitches).
The next day, the quotes and answers I provided from Dillon Gage Metals appeared in a Reuters article. Which was picked up by more newspapers, online blogs and other media outlets than I care to count (and also, I’m terrible at math). This all became possible because I chose to trade places with my media target. I was no longer thinking about what she could do for me. I was thinking about what I could do for her.
Trading places. I wonder what this business would be like if every PR person did that.
Jeff is a senior account executive at TrizCom PR
From national industry leaders and Dallas-Fort Worth’s largest companies to startups and growing enterprises, TrizCom PR provides public relations and social media services to a wide variety of businesses encompassing startup, healthcare, lifestyle brands, B2B, energy, tech, entertainment, food/beverage and beyond. TrizCom PR has a dynamic track record of local, regional, national and international media placements on behalf of its clients that, if monetized, would equal hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2014 and 2015, TrizCom PR has been named in the top 25 of PR Firms by Dallas Business Journal. TrizCom PR is a Certified Woman Owned Business Corporation (NWBOC). For more information on TrizCom PR call 972-247-1369 or visit www.TrizCom.com.