Media coverage is not lead generation
It's a common misperception within B2B companies around organic media coverage, in that someone will read your article in a magazine or your media mention and immediately wish to purchase your product or service.
Perhaps once upon a time, before the proliferation of digital content, this did in fact occur. But in today's content-saturated digital world, highly competitive and volatile economic landscape, this rarely happens.
What PR and media coverage actually does for your brand:
Awareness and mindshare: Organic media coverage can be great for awareness. Good PR, if done well, it will help attract the right, targeted attention to your brand. If done consistently well and at scale, it will help maximise 'mindshare' over your competitors and give you more 'share of voice.'
Building a strong brand perception: If your prospects search for your brand online and a long list of powerful news stories and mentions come up, it will help make your company look more established, especially if your news and insights demonstrate company strength, growth, happy customer stories and success. When a consumer is ready to purchase, finding an organic media article about your brand could help inform their purchase decision as it is a great unbiased endorsement of your service or product.
Amplifying your thought leadership: Great thought leadership content can immediately position your C-Suite leaders as trailblazers in their field. Consistent, regular thought leadership articles placed consistently well across the right channels can work wonders for positioning your C-Suite leaders as a cut above the competition, while building trust and 'humanising' your brand. This is particularly critical in the B2B space, where prospects still want to know the people behind the brand.
Increasing brand equity: If you're looking for investors, increasing brand equity through the power of PR can be invaluable. So if your potential investors search for your brand online and a long list of positive news stories and mentions come up about your company growth, successes and wins, it will help make your company look more attractive to your investors, and elevate your brand equity in the long run.
Growing network and audience: If you're lucky and your media coverage provides backlinks to your site or if the content is so exceptional it drives prospects to look your website up, then you might notice spikes in your web traffic. C-Suite leaders mentioned in articles can also expect a surge in LinkedIn requests, and possible speaker opportunities - sometimes off the back of even one well-crafted media placement.
What PR and media coverage actually doesn't do for your brand
Many B2B companies make the mistake of confusing media coverage with lead generation or digital marketing, only to be left wondering why media coverage is not generating direct leads.
For marketing activity to be lead generation it must drive consumers to a dedicated landing page where you can, in fact, capture those leads for sales and retargeting. Most organic media articles don’t do this, because they do not include backlinks of your choice and they do not include a call to action. They also don’t let a brand control the messaging. Journalists report news, they're not an extension of your marketing team.
And why would they? Media publishers are wise to the marketing game. They want your advertising dollars in order to survive They don’t want to endorse your product for free. If what you have to say is newsworthy enough, the media may cover it, but they will not put in a link of your choice. You cannot control the messaging, and they will not capture leads for you, unless you pay them to do so via sponsored content or ads.
Publishing outlets: the tin man of marketing?
In the age before the internet and social media, media coverage was everything. It was a fantastic, unbiased way of communicating with customers and was valued at a zillion to one compared to paid ads, or the advertising value equivalency (AVE) of old. In fact, the AVE metric is so old it can be considered useless in the current consumer-driven market. I would argue it always was. It’s nice to have, but it’s not the be all and end all of a campaign.
Unfortunately in recent years, media outlets are falling under financial hardship, journalists are being asked to do more with less, their audiences are shrinking and unfortunately, their revenues shrinking with them. The slow and painful demise of the media in this country is devastating and is contributing to the rise of ignorance, fake news, and echo chambers of our own creation. It could be argued many media outlets are no longer unbiased, and as such both consumer trust and readership has plummeted.
Don’t don’t get me wrong, as an agency we are deep and committed supporters of strengthening and reshaping the media industry for the better. Having a robust and unbiased media industry is vital for a healthy and educated democracy.
But the harsh reality in today's landscape is that a marketing, PR and inbound strategy that is heavily 'PR focused' is not going to impact sales in the same way as it did 10 or 25 years ago.
Marketers now have a plethora of channels available to them where they can communicate and engage directly with consumers, control the messaging, retarget and capture leads. And the savvy consumer now wants to hear directly from brands, provided what they say is valuable and authentic.
Stimulating and capturing consumer attention now must involve an omnichannel approach to funnel people from awareness to consideration and intent - awareness alone won’t do it. It is vital to cover multiple channels with coherent messaging to targeted consumers. It is this messaging, as a whole, which will drive consumers to your dedicated landing page, where your martech mix can help capture those leads and retarget them.
So please don’t put all your marketing energy into organic media coverage, then wonder why it is not transforming directly into leads. Instead, follow 'the yellow brick road' to lead generation through a more omnichannel and direct communication approach, and value media for what it is: sharing deep, authentic news and insights and generating deep, intelligent debate on timely issues.
Can we help you get your media and marketing mix right? Contact us today.
Vanessa Mitchell is the Director of Content and Communications at AZK Media
This article was also published in Little Black Book Online, one of the world's leading publications for marketing, media and agency news.