Mt’s Amy Birchall spoke to founder of Agent99 Public Relations Sharon Zeev Poole to find out how managers can thrive in a changing media environment.
Mt: What do managers need to know about the changing face of media, even if they’re not in a media/comms role?
The face of media is changing daily. A dynamic digital landscape and the fragmentation of media has meant that consumers have an incredible array of outlets to choose from that cater to their tastes. Social media has also impacted on how consumers engage with their news, and how they like to interact with brands and each other. This means a number of things for managers:
1. What worked before in terms of reaching your target audience, may either not work as well, or will need to be tweaked. Be open to exploring other means of communication with your target audience. This could be through social media platforms or engaging relevant bloggers, for example. Media in its traditional sense is certainly not the only way to communicate with your audience any more.
2. Traditional media has gone through a massive upheaval, especially in the print space. In many cases, this means that journalists are having to do the work of a number of people because resources are tight. This means that if you want to achieve exposure for your brand, the better prepared your materials are, the more likely they will be used. Ensure that you have high quality, well written media releases and professional imagery, and that you respond to them in a timely manner that respects their deadlines. Journalists will really appreciate this and will likely use your materials and pitches in future because you become a trusted source that understands their needs and stressful environment.
3. Whilst it used to be acceptable to blanket out a media release to contacts 5-10 years ago, we have seen a huge shift in what achieves cut through with media these days. Firing off a media release just doesn’t cut it. To success, your approach needs to be tailored and you are expected to know their outlet inside out. The principles remain the same in that your news should be new, quirky, interesting, the first, the biggest, etc. It should have a strong angle and a clear appeal to their audience.
Mt: What can managers expect to change or stay the same in the next 12 months?
I believe we will see more top tier digital outlets attempt to monetize their sites through subscription based viewership, like Fairfax is exercising currently, in order to survive. Fragmentation of media and the rise of social media interaction will continue to grow. It’s imperative that managers keep their fingers on the pulse of consumer’s changing tastes, so that they can remain relevant and communicate with their audience that best suits them.
Mt: For organisations that have hired – or who are considering hiring – an external PR firm, what are some reasonable expectations for the coverage they’ll receive? Obviously not everyone can be front page news. How can you determine a good ROI?
This is a tough question because expectations can vary greatly depending on the product or service, and the sector it’s in. I believe that strategically, setting out KPIs prior to kicking off a campaign that take into account where the target audience sits and what the brand would deem to be a successful campaign is essential. Agent99 PR does this with all of our clients and we aim to blow it out of the water so that they walk away happy with the ROI.
I think that if a manager has the means of measuring direct impact as the result of the coverage (such as sales leads or attendance at an event), this is obviously the best way to interpret the results. However, this is not always possible. Some projects simply aim to either change the positioning of a brand in the market or simply raise its awareness, which are also difficult to gauge unless market research is conducted before and after the campaign.
In any case, I believe it’s very important to communicate with your agency about success and KPI’s before you commence, so that everyone is aware of the expectations and are on the same page and working towards the same goals.
Sharon Zeev Poole started Agent99 less than seven years ago and today the agency represents an enviable list of lifestyle, consumer and business-to-business clients across the food and wine, travel, health, beauty, online and non-for-profit spaces. The agency’s clients enjoy regular media exposure across an incredibly impressive range of top tier media, including national newspapers, televised news, breakfast shows, leading magazines and online outlets.