Successful earned media is public media exposure that results from your successful efforts to create content that (a) provides journalists with a story that is sufficiently intriguing to their audience to get published and (b) segues effectively to your association’s messaging and increases your visibility.
How do you “earn” media exposure? It’s free but it’s not cheap. It’s not cheap because it takes constant vigilance and creative thinking to develop stories that are both media-worthy and effectively communicate your messaging. This requires the effort of staff members or external consultants.
Here are 3 tips:
- Use Google Alerts or a similar service to inform you of stories that you can piggy-back onto and segue to your messaging.
- Be prepared to repond as soon as a headline breaks. In order to do this you need to be well-prepared.
- Develop your top key messages first. What information do you need to communicate? e.g. The province needs more social workers or, we need to reduce the barriers to cross-border trade.
- Develop language that will provide a segue from likely headlines to your messaging. For example, let’s say that your key message is that Manitoba residents would be better off if the province had more social workers. The headlines most likely to provide a natural segue to this message would be “bad news” stories in which an individual falls through the cracks in the system and suffers a negative outcome.
- Contact the journalist who wrote the story and offer one of your trained spokespeople as a commentator. Ensure they’re well briefed before you get a call back!
A typical segue to use for all stories of this type might contain these 3 elements:
- “We’re so sorry to hear that <this unfortunate event> took place on <date> at <location>.
- “Unfortunately this might have been avoided. We have so few social workers in <the relevant system/location>, their case loads are far beyond acceptable levels. Unless the situation changes, unfortunate events like this are likely to continue to occur.
- “Fortunately, the solution is both simple and cost-effective. Studies show that social workers actually save the province money <insert data>. By increasing the ratio of social workers to case files by xx% we could avoid an estimated <xxx tragic situation description> each year.…and so on.
Let me leave you with 4 steps to success from Warren Weeks of Weeks Media
- Ask yourself: Why do we want media coverage? What do we hope to accomplish?
- Who are we trying to speak to and what do we want them to do?
- Write the story. What will make an interesting read for your audience? (refer to #2, above)
- Which journalists should you pitch the story to? Do your research. Look at what they’ve published and ensure their audience is a fit with your target audiences.
Read our blog on visibility for more on this topic.