March 12, 2018
Experts Corner

Are your media impressions making any impression at all?

Jason Simms

It is, of course, a good thing to "get your name out there," but if that's why your company is doing PR, you're missing out on a ton of potential value.

Media coverage has the ability to showcase in a highly memorable and shareable way what your organization stands for and provide a flavor of what it's like to do business with you. It's different from advertising in that way, yet PR campaigns are commonly measured like ad campaigns in terms of impressions.

There's much less thought given to how deep of an impression is being made — though this is the most important factor for generating business through media exposure.

Accolades aren’t differentiators

Many large and well-established organizations essentially limit their interactions with the press to announcements of awards, new projects and new hires. The problem is that their competitors can make similar claims.

An award for excellence reveals little about the nature of your excellence. If the story you are offering is simply, "Company X Honored with Award Y," or "Company X Wins Bid for Project Z," it is unlikely to have any effect on your business. Why did you win the award or project? What does it say about how you do business? How does the work that led to this moment reflect your firm's purpose in the world?

In certain rare cases, the press may be interested enough in your announcement to seek out the answers to these questions themselves. More often, it's up to you to bring the media something surprising or thought-provoking.

An accolade can be a reason why your story is relevant now, but the story itself should be something that could only come from your organization and speaks to its essence. When you bring forward rich, detailed stories in the media, it functions almost like a personal recommendation on a mass scale.

Announcements vs. proof

Every announcement is a challenge to prove something. Your new service offering is going to revolutionize the industry? Show why it's truly different. Include voices of those who will benefit from your service in the announcement. If you're responding to a trend or forces in the marketplace, provide that context in materials you send to the press. If your competitors are making similar moves, join forces for coverage that benefits your industry overall.

Adding dimensions to your story beyond the simple basics of your announcement invites vibrant coverage that is more likely to be acted upon by those who see it.

So what? Who cares?

If you have good answers to these questions, it's likely that the story you're bringing to the media is part of a larger story about your company, your community, or a concept you believe in.

When answers aren't readily available, don't quit — dig deeper. Not knowing yet what the story is can be the first step to a compelling story. There's no formula for being interesting. The most fascinating stories that make potential customers excited to do business with you are unique, so the path to creating them may not be readily apparent.

By working hard to find a connection between your announcement and the reason your company exists, you may discover an angle that previously seemed trivial, but is in fact highly illustrative of why your organization is great. If you don't have a breakthrough, that's OK too — even adding a little depth to your announcements pays off over time.

Go ahead and get those impressions, if you can, but keep an eye out for ways to partner with the press that allow their audience to really know you, not just know of you.

Jason Simms is a public relations strategist based in Deep River.

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