Now that we have generally discussed how to get newspaper, radio and TV publicity in (parts 1-4) of this mini series, we will conclude this series with a little insight into managing a public relations media communications roll out plan. This article is based on several years of personal experience.
When thinking about communicating with the public people tend to think of a “national rollout” and hitting the big time with the media, appearing on national TV networks and newspapers and radio stations across the U.S. While this is possible, it’s not probable if you are not a major newsmaker.
There is a saying in the media “if it bleeds, it leads” and what it means is that the more horrific and gruesome an event, the more likely it is to be covered. So if you are not a politician or a crazed axe murderer, you will be up against stiff competition to get national TV coverage. It seems that something more important than your cause will either arise (like a tsunami) or exist (like politics) that stand in your way for publicity. Wbseries Media
What a lot of people don’t understand is the politics of national media. Major businesses (like IBM, Microsoft, etc) have dollar power, as do big publishers (like John Wiley & sons, Prentice Hall, etc) and large advertising groups and PR/media communications firms. These companies spend a TON of money wining and dining the “powers that be” in the national media like TV executives, producers and hosts. I can’t prove what I am about to say but you should accept it anyway: There is payola money to the big media in the form of “trips, tickets, gifts and, I am sure cash under the table that is used to build relationships with people in the media. These money gifts help establish relationships and create inside channels for publicity. Imagine for a moment that you have a great story idea for national TV. Who do you think is going to get booked for a gig, you or a major advertising/public relations firm who has a client needing the same air time? Consider that this particular firm drops $100,000.00 a year on wining and dining the players in the media… If you said them and not you, you are right.
For this reason most people should concentrate on reasonable and achievable media communications goals and target very specific geographical areas composed of the TOP-30 media markets (still political but not as much) and better yet, smaller cities with population centers ranging from 100,000 to 500,000 people. A good way to identify these markets is by using a road atlas. Using an atlas will help you put into perspective where, why and how you will be communicating with the media. It will show populations and distance in case you have to travel.
My thoughts on publicity is that if you cannot get covered in smaller markets well, you will never get covered in the big ones well. Let me rephrase that: If you can’t get the little things done first, you will never get the bigger things done (.)
One way to look at the national media is to break the U.S. into 4 geographical sectors and then break these down into 4 geographical sectors and continue to do so and look at the media within these smaller target zones. Another good strategy is to treat where you live as the core of an onion and draw larger and larger concentric circles around where you live, expanding each circle out by say 50 or 100 miles at a time. These are the media you want to start with in your public relations campaign. Why? Well, first it is a reasonable distance to drive for in-studio radio-gigs and TV events if you get that kind of coverage. Secondly, publicity has a tendency to build on itself and as you get newspaper stories and radio experience, these materials can be used to increase your credibility with bigger media. It’s a building block approach, the more press you get, the more press you get if you use your media coverage wisely. Thirdly, it will be easier to manage small concentrated areas at a time rather than a major national wire press release distribution, which are basically impossible to track and follow up on. There are companies in the market like Luce’s Clipping service that will scan media and clip and send your articles to you. These services aren’t cheap but they can help you build your media kit content.
Whatever level of publicity you are seeking, you want good information management systems to track where you are sending press releases, follow up names, addresses, phone numbers, dates, etc. When you consider all the activities of creating the releases, the media kits, sending them out, following up, booking the gigs, performing the gigs and thanking the media for the gig, if you are not well managed, you will lose a lot of time and miss opportunities.