By Lisa Carter, Senior Consultant - SAS Media and Communications
Just like you can’t just auction your home at random and expect to get top dollar, you can’t just whack out a media release and expect to get top coverage!
Media coverage can be a bit like selling your house. You work under the guidance of those-in-the-know to create a plan to achieve your desired outcome – usually getting the maximum price for your home. For media communications specialists like us, it’s gaining maximum (or sometimes minimum, depending on the circumstances) traction for our client’s issue.
Anyone who’s sold property knows only too well that you have to employ a number of tactics in order to get the best price for your home. You’d never just dive in and hope for the best without researching the market, finding out what’s hot and what’s not, or examining how similar properties are selling in your area. You ask around, find out what’s been working and what hasn’t, and listen intently to every piece of buyer feedback you can get. Are lots of homes in your neighbourhood selling like hotcakes, or is there very little movement?
There are just as many important elements to incorporate into your media strategy.
What’s happening in the newsroom today? Is the media pack tweeting that the Prime Minister just called a snap election, that a world figure just been killed in a car accident, or that there’s been a mass shooting at a local shopping centre?
Or, are they tweeting about a trio of cats stuck in a tree? It’s not hard to work out when isn’t a good time to send out a story.
But what about reach? Who are we giving what story to, and why? Do we brief one carefully selected journalist for an exclusive and then work like crazy to ensure the other media outlets follow, or do we send out our story to a select few, or to everyone? And at what time?
Every question must be answered in order to determine the right strategy, but there’s still only so much you can predict about what a journalist, or home buyer, or is actually willing to give you.
Sometimes (despite your thoroughly-researched, well-planned and perfectly-executed efforts), a group of buyers can collectively push up the price of a home by tens of thousands of dollars, or only one buyer can leave another’s price falling woefully short. And one story can go crazy while another simply falls by the wayside.
We recently briefed a journalist at smaller city newspaper about an issue that wasn’t exactly a cracker of a yarn. But the day it went to print, we had phone calls and interview requests all day as a follow on. It ended up being discussed on radio throughout the day, made it into a number of outlets’ online editions, got a look in during that night’s television packages, and even managed to end up with a follow-on in the next day’s edition!
And yet for a different (and far more contentious issue), achieving even half that result took hours of behind-the-scenes work. We briefed an experienced journalist from a prominent news outlet, gave her interviewees, photo ops, statistics, and just the right amount of saucy, behind-the-scenes information. She was more than keen to get an exclusive up and running – it was a terrific, front page-worthy yarn with the potential to create a huge follow-on throughout the day for other media outlets. But despite all our best efforts, despite the journalist’s best efforts, it only made the early print edition and was left out of the second, and ended up being relegated to a shorter version online.
You see, every once in a while the end result just won’t be what any of us thinks it will be – just like at an auction, none of us can expect to maintain total control over the eventual outcome.
But after a less-than-perfect auction result, a real estate agent takes stock, contacts the bidders, negotiates, strategises and works behind the scenes to get that sold sign up on a house.
And we’re just the same after a story that doesn’t get the complete result we wanted. We spring to action - taking stock, contacting our journalists, negotiating, strategising and working behind the scenes to get that story back up and running.
Because in the worlds of real estate and media, you just never can tell what’s about to happen!