Consider this – if you’re in business today, the media is your customer. For communications professionals, the media is often their primary customer. However for everyone, really, the traditional and new media has become at a minimum a key influencer in the buying decision.
Earned media is still one of the most powerful tools in an integrated marketing toolkit. With stories at a premium you’ve got to understand not only your customer’s experience, but the unique aspects of the media’s buying cycle as well.
Anyone in business today will have to understand and work with the media at some point. Digital marketers may encounter them on social media. New business owners may want media to write about their launch. Brand managers might choose earned media (or native ads) as a way to create or change a perception. For whatever reasons, the media is your customer.
We all know that buying cycles are becoming increasingly self-directed and the media is perhaps furthest along in this transformation. For some reason people think that just spewing press releases and pitches at media will work. It doesn’t anymore. Some media folks get as many as 100 to 200 pitches a day, or more.
Of all the personas we work with as integrated marketers, the media is the one that doesn’t need our help finding stories anymore. It’s out there for them to find, from viral videos to social media buzz. And since dealing with “marketers” was never the fun part of the job, it means that we could be left out.
To reach the media, I would argue that you have to influence them from one step of their buying journey to the next, just like anyone else.
Here are a few things to remember when the media is your customer:
Create personas for the media you want to reach. Most of the time, there will be primary influencers within the different types of media. These can be local TV reporters, bloggers in your niche, freelancers, etc. Each one probably curates information differently, and has a set of characteristics and behavior that can help you identify their buying cycle for stories.
Learn where they get their information. Content acquisition behavior is the most important aspect of behavior when the media is your customer. What’s great is that can ask them directly about it. Most journalists and bloggers will tell you where they like to curate information – they’re proud of it. Or follow them on social media and see what they post. This will give you some great information.
Place your content where they will find it. When you’ve discovered the common curation sites, this part is easy. It’s no different from the morning show producers looking to the New York Times for their stories as they did ten years ago. Just find their favorite places and post your stuff there.
Figure out the timing of their curation as well. I’m no media powerhouse but some marketing vendors like to get featured on this blog. A couple of them have figured out that I’m usually in social media (mainly Twitter) quite early in the morning. They often tag me at that time when I’m more likely to see it. Watch your media folks as well and do the same thing.
Support their ongoing stories, don’t just try to pitch. Find out how you can help. Maybe you’re an expert on a topic they write about frequently. Maybe they like to have content written they can spin into a unique post. I guarantee if you become a trusted source on a particular topic, at some point they’ll do some nice things for your brand.
Measure the steps, not the stories. Find out the things that your media customers do that indicate progress. We sent out a pitch once for a blog that was written by a client’s CEO. Not a single person responded. But the traffic for that blog was the highest of any blog that year. Nothing else had changed. Identify a few simple measurements beyond direct response and track them.
Now repeat to yourself three times:
The media is my customer. The media is my customer. The media is my customer.
Now, test your knowledge with this brief quiz. (We’re trying out some quiz software – let me know what you think!)