Monday, August 10, 2009

Want Profitable Media Mentions? Think Small

A great post today from Ken Magill at Smart PR Watch that deserves to be repeated.

Lawyers who want beneficial coverage in the trades must think small-ball—a baseball term that means the batting team focuses on methodically placing runners on base and advancing them home rather than on home runs.

Marketers who want to burnish their brands through the business press should quit dreaming about that big feature in the Wall Street Journal or BusinessWeek. Great if it happens, but a single ego-boosting piece in a mass-circulation business publication isn’t a PR strategy that has legs.

Moreover, trying to get big puffy features published in the trades isn’t a winning tactic either. A smart trade reporter knows company executives will tell them everything’s peachy even if their CFO just sent a mass internal e-mail with the subject line “Iceberg Ahead!”

A real-world example of why smart trade reporters won’t write puff pieces about companies came about in 1999 when a direct marketing trade magazine came out with the cover story: “J. Peterman: Making the Seamless Transition to Retail.” Trouble was, between the time the magazine’s editors put it to bed and the time it hit people’s mailboxes, J. Peterman had filed for bankruptcy.

I always tell company representatives they can forget about me ever writing a glowing feature about their firm. However, I always assure them that they will also never see a piece written by me gushing about one of their competitors, either.

Smart trade-press PR isn’t about getting fawning coverage. It’s about lawyers being quoted regularly as experts in the publications the company’s prospects and customers read.

What does getting cited regularly entail? Being useful, accessible and quotable.

Being useful involves convincing the reporter that a certain executive or lawyer can offer expertise and insight in an area the reporter covers regularly, and that the executive can do so without pitching the company’s product or service.

Being accessible means just that. If contact must go through a PR rep, fine, but the lawyer who wants to be quoted must respond to reporters’ calls and/or e-mails quickly—within the hour if possible.

Being quotable is the ability to succinctly get an interesting and insightful point across.

At its core, a smart trade-press PR strategy involves targeting reporters and bloggers who are reaching the company’s likely prospects and then figuring out how to be of service to those reporters and bloggers, and their readers.

Executives who want positive trade press coverage should stop thinking: “How can I get them to write about me?” and start thinking: “How can I get them to consider me one of their go-to experts?”

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