Sign up to our monthly newsletter
Public relations and marketing are undoubtedly interconnected disciplines, sharing the same goal of pushing leads further down the sales funnel and raising brand awareness. However, the messages that can be used in PR and in marketing are not necessarily interchangeable. Messages that might work in a marketing email or webinar do not necessarily resonate with a journalist or make for a compelling story.
Time and again we see companies make the mistake of thinking that a press release full of marketing messages and jargon – and focused only on promoting a product or the brand – will get interest from journalists. But this approach overlooks the inherent differences between PR and marketing.
To better understand how to determine if a marketing message has any news value, we’ll first need to look at the differences between PR (specifically the media relations function in this case) and marketing.
PR versus marketing: what’s the difference?
There is perhaps no better representation of the difference between PR and marketing than the classic sales funnel model. PR is at the top – it provides the visibility, the awareness, the brand’s public story and identity. It generates the news articles that pop up when someone searches for your company. It’s what builds awareness of who you are and what you do.
Marketing is the next step in the process. It’s about taking that awareness and visibility and educating prospective customers on what the company offers and why it’s useful. It’s about speaking directly to people who have expressed a base level of interest in the product, whether by stopping at a trade show booth, downloading content from a gated page or attending a webinar.
Given these differences, and how much broader PR’s audience can be, it’s easy to see why marketing messages don’t always translate well in a media relations context. This doesn’t mean that the two are mutually exclusive. It just means that it’s important to know how to transform a marketing message into something newsworthy.
How do you determine if a message will grab the media’s attention?
No matter the industry, there are a few key questions businesses should ask themselves in order to separate the media hits from the media misses.
Is it timely and does it tie into a bigger trend or event?
Timeliness and relevance to the current agenda are two of the biggest factors that determine news value. Journalists are pitched hundreds of stories a day and newsrooms are shrinking, putting more pressure on fewer people to produce quality content and meet deadlines. This raises the bar in terms of what’s required to grab the media’s attention.
Anything you can do to make a pitch more relevant to journalists – like tying it into a current event, trend or upcoming conference – will help your cause. Ask yourself: is this topic timely or could it be passed up or pushed down the road in favour of more pressing news?
Does it tell a story, rather than trying to sell?
The media’s purpose isn’t to peddle products and messages for companies. To succeed at media relations, you need to switch off the sales mindset and think objectively about what makes an interesting story.
Go a step further by researching what a particular journalist is really interested in and enjoys writing about, and give them a scoop that helps them do that.
Does it boast third party validation (e.g. from a customer or analyst)?
One of the most common requests we receive from journalists when we pitch a piece of news is for customer testimonials and other forms of third party validation. Analysts, influencers and other industry experts can all help add compelling layers to a story.
Journalists are always looking for additional sources – and often need at least a couple to write up a story – so making that resource readily available can really increase the news value of whatever you’re pitching.
By keeping these tips in mind, it’s possible to secure media coverage for announcements and stories that still support your internal marketing efforts. It’s all about tailoring your messages to better suit the needs of journalists and tie into the news agenda.
Do you need help making your marketing messages newsworthy? Contact us today to find out how we can help!Sign up to our monthly newsletter