As someone that has been implementing earned media programs since before the Internet (wow am I aging myself), I have seen HUGE changes in the world of thought leadership and public relations. As I stated in a recent blog, client’s needs have changed, the number and type of publications is different and how information is consumed has radically shifted.
What hasn’t changed is what goes into earned media. That is: a highly tailored story, patience and loads of perseverance. In fact, unless you represent a Fortune 50 company that everyone is dying to hear from, a new technology that is revolutionizing an industry or dealing with a scandal, earning media today is harder than it has ever been. Reporters and editors are asked to do more with fewer resources and are bombarded with information and pitches from more channels that ever before.
I have been promoting a company that offers a unique type of insurance for a little more than a year. They are a tough sell as their product is not well-known and, as I rapidly learned, is not perceived as a must-have for consumers. While they offer coverage in a variety of areas (for legal needs), the stories that we can tell about the product are considered “evergreen,” making securing placements that much tougher.
After a couple of quick hits on the product I found myself in the black hole of media. I cast a wide net, sent out pithy emails using a variety of story angles, included infographics and other visual support materials, and diligently made calls to follow-up. Nada. I even created breaking news around the product….and got nothing. When I did catch a reporter on the phone, it was a very short call.
Finally, a personal finance reporter (my primary target) in Kansas City, responded to an email I had sent months before asking for my client’s help in finding an attorney that he could speak to on an unrelated issue. We helped him out and facilitated the interview, knowing full well that we did not stand a chance of being mentioned, and we weren’t. But that was the start of something. We leveraged that as the beginning of a relationship and went back to him with an ultra-tailored pitch specific to his column alone. It took a couple of months, but that reporter is writing a story on my clients’ product as I type this.
This invigorated me and I started stalking our topic targets that had turned me down easily at the outset. And not with one additional note or idea, but many. For one syndicated personal finance columnist, I pitched her on six occasions in reference to her column and TV appearances – each time with a different angle related back to her piece. And, I did all this after she hung up on me the very first time I caught her via phone. Well, the sixth time was the charm and she is now interested.
I modeled this again and again and am today seeing some real results – and my client is thrilled. The dry months were very stressful, and I am sure there are more to come, but right now I have momentum. Patience, tenacity and perseverance, combined with a calm, thoughtful and sweet delivery proved to be the recipe for success for this client. This is my method across the board. Now back to pitching…I have some unique angles to cook up!