Cracking the Media Code Part I: The “Why”

“ I Know…Let’s Write a Press Release!”

Organizations love to write press releases. I’ve seen it suggested by boards, committees and staff members everywhere.

I get it. It seems like an obvious strategy – get your message to the media and they will get it to lots of people who will care enough to respond to it

It’s a nice idea – but it just isn’t the reality.

Yes, the media does reach lots of people. And sometimes they will put your information out there. And sometimes people do respond to it.

But far too often that’s not the case.

And before that can happen the media needs to respond to you.

And even more often they don’t.

So is PR worth it? And what role is it supposed to play, anyway?

Here it is – and if you’ve heard me speak about the role of marketing in general, it will sound very familiar:

The role of public relations is to get the audience to respond in a way that helps achieve the organization’s goals.

The end game is not getting your story in the media.

The media is your means to reach a broad audience with your message, inspiring them to act in a certain way, toward a specific goal.

Before you even consider pitching the media you need to think through why you’re doing it.

What do you want the audience to do once they hear your message? Donate? Participate in your programs? Feel good about you? 

Then write the release that way. And pitch it that way.

If you are pitching a story because it seems like you should, because you have people on your gala committee who are convinced that it’s the right thing to do, that’s not  a good enough reason.

And the fact is your organization might not be the right fit for public relations in the first place.

How do you know if this is the case?

I will close with what I call the haystack vs. the needle effect

If your organization’s stories are relevant enough to the thousands of people who will hear your message and act on your organization’s behalf, then the media is for you.

You will benefit from reaching the whole haystack – the random group of individuals who, if your information is out there, will care enough to respond in a particular way.

But if your cause or event is specialized,  if it doesn’t impact many people or it’s very specific in its programs, then you’re better off spending your time figuring out where those needles group together, and targeting them where they are…engaging in outreach and hitting them up with great stories, beautiful materials and explicit asks.

Do you work for an environmental organization? PR should be a strategy. Target the haystack regularly, because the broad community cares a lot about San Diego and its outdoor quality of life.

Do you help people living with a very specific and unique disease? Don’t bother with PR.  Yes, your story will make people feel sad, but chances are they won’t relate to it enough to act on behalf of your organization.

Why PR? Because sometimes it works.

But that only happens when your cause is relevant to a broad audience, you know how to inspire them, you know what you want from them, and you aren’t afraid to ask for it.

So now that you’ve got that figured out and you’ve determined PR is a strategy for you, how do you get the media to get your message out there?

Stay tuned for my next blog post. It will tell you.

Until then…

Go do good…and do it well.





One response to “Cracking the Media Code Part I: The “Why””

  1. Randal Schober Avatar

    Great BLOG as always.

    Wanted to give you my new e-mail address !!

    Look forward to catching up !!