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Don’t value output over impact

When it comes to embarking on a media relations campaign and generating valuable coverage, I’m still surprised at how many in our profession prioritize their efforts and approach. I don’t know many folks who don’t consider themselves, or aspire to be, STRATEGIC.
Why is it, then, that too often strategy ends up on the cutting room floor?

  • Focused media lists evolve into list with 500 contacts
  • Quality coverage is sacrificed for quantity
  • Coverage in a “cool” outlet becomes more important than coverage in the right outlet
  • Speed is valued above thoughtful research and knowledge of the outlet and reporter
  • Desperation for any result defeats dogged determination to get the big win


Sound familiar? It’s almost always the result of setting unrealistic expectations about impressions and coverage volume – sometimes by the client, sometimes by the agency and sometimes by both. Regardless of the reasons, we all feel the pressure to deliver results.
Sure, the media environment has changed. Non-traditional media play a more significant role, true “beats” have largely disappeared and the competition for coverage is fiercer than ever. But the basic tenets remain the same:

  • Identify the business objective
  • Define your audience(s)
  • Solidify the message(s)
  • Determine the best venues for reaching those audiences

Perhaps most importantly, though, make sure everyone – the client, stakeholders and the agency team – is aligned on the expectations. Collaborate on what success looks like, create a plan that maps to that success and then faithfully execute it. But be flexible and adapt to the situation. If something isn’t working, don’t toss away the strategy and just throw a bunch of stuff up against the wall to see what sticks. Think about new and creative ways to reach your goals.
The bottom line is we all want to be valued partners and counselors to our clients. And that sometimes means having courageous conversations about strategy, activation and results.
It can be uncomfortable, but we owe it to ourselves and our clients to ask the tough questions – “What’s important to you, quantity or quality?” – and give the unpopular opinions – “Oprah just isn’t going to care about this story.” Remember, be respectful and provide a rationale. They may not agree, but at least they’ll respect you.

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