Effective media relations is crucial in placing articles in trade publications and promoting a product or service. Editors and marketing content creators seem to be working at cross purposes. However, PR people find ways to work together which essentially results in finding effective ways to deliver powerful public relations and marketing strategies for all types of businesses large and small.
Whereas publications used to have editors and several staff writers years ago, today many have no writers, just one editor and an assistant running the entire publication’s operation. This means they need people in marketing content creators to provide quality content. They are always looking for well written articles to be placed in their trade publications that serve their readers. It not only brings new subscribers o the publication, but advertisers to the magazine as well, whether online or in print.
When potential customers read something that is credible – meaning the topic is well researched, thought out, and believable – it educates them and helps them in their own business operations. The result: it can have a very influential impact on viewers and these viewers are much more likely to look into the product or the company discussed. This is the power of PR and how it can turn words into sales.
Walking the Tight Rope
However, bear in mind it’s a very thin line both parties must walk. In most cases, the editor does not welcome an article that openly discusses the virtues, benefits, and features of the client’s products. That’s a form of advertising, sometimes called an “advertorial” and more recently referred to as “native advertising.” Publications charge for content like this no matter what the form. That’s how they make money.
On the other side of the fence, the PR professional wants to get his/her client’s article in the publication. This is referred to as “earned media.” And they also want to be sure the virtues and benefits of the client’s products are made clear in the article. It sounds like it could be a tough act to put together, but there are both subtle and even direct ways that work for both parties. Among them are the following:
Byline the article by the client
Many publications actually prefer this. Then the client becomes the expert, the “thought leader” as they say. Editors like to have thought leaders writing for them; the client likes to be viewed as a thought leader; and in the process one of their products is referenced in a tactful, subtle way.
Quote the client
This tactic is not as popular among editors, and some publications will ask to have two or more people quoted in an article; however, it can be an effective way to brand your client as a thought leader.
Quote an expert
Recently I wrote an article for a client in a trade publication and found an independent and respected industry expert discussing and praising the clients key products. There is nothing more powerful than in promoting a product than to have an expert discuss its virtues.
Become the observer
In this setup, the article is placed under a third person’s name. This person describes a problem they have seen and explains how a product, tool, or equipment addressed and corrected the problem. And guess just whose product solved the problem?
Offer a case study
Some publications like case studies. The editor wants the PR/communications writer to discuss an operational problem at a school, for instance, bring in as many facts and figures as possible, and then conclude with how the situation was addressed and corrected. Again, it’s the client’s products to the rescue.
Write a Q&A
Some editors really like articles in a question and answer format, and so do PR/Communications professionals. It’s the easiest way to turn a client into an expert and by providing powerful, educational, and credible answers, it helps brand the client, builds loyalty and trust, which we believe will turn into sales.
Coming up with New Ideas
Editors are always asking for new ideas. They want something new to discuss. Because of this, they are always turning to PR professionals to come up with something new, a new angle on an old topic,or,, and best of all, something none of their competing publications have ever written about before.
This approach can work wonders with a very critical editor. Some editors not only will not allow any mention or reference to a product in articles submitted, but also do not want the article to quote a manufacturer (or client). What they will allow, however, is pictures of the client’s products tackling the issues being discussed in the article. Interestingly, I have found some clients really like this. Their products are their “babies” and they love seeing them in print or online.
Although editors and PR professionals have different goals with the content that runs in a publication, ultimately their goals can both be satisfied with just a little creativity on the part of the PR firm. Article placement is a huge benefit to a PR person’s clients. These small accommodations to appease the editors we write for are well worth the effort.
Sidebar: The Power of Media Relations and Promotng Products or Services
An excellent book that offers more information on the power of PR is The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR
The emphasis of the book is how many major corporations today started out with very little advertising and lots of PR. Below is a quote from that book regarding how these companies have succeeded almost entirely on the power of PR:
“All the recent marketing successes have been PR successes, not advertising successes. To name a few: Starbucks, The Body Shop, Amazon.com, Yahoo!, eBay, Palm, Google, Linus, PlayStation, Harry Potter, Botox, Red Bull, Microsoft, Intel, and BlackBerry.
A closer look at the history of most major brands shows this to be true. As a matter of fact, an astonishing number of well-known brands have been built with virtually no advertising at all. Anita Roddick built The Body Shop into a worldwide brand without any advertising. Instead she traveled the world looking for ingredients for her natural cosmetics, a quest that resulted in endless publicity.
Until recently Starbucks didn’t spend a hill of beans on advertising either. In its first ten years, the company spent less that $10 million (total) on advertising in the United States, a trivial amount for a brand that delivers annual sales of $1.3 billion today. ”
More information on marketing content creation can be found here.
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