Media Relations in Scotland
Thursday, March 24th, 2016
Hungry for coverage? The 21st Century media is a smorgasbord – not a specials board.
Welcome to Part 2 of our Guide to being a Digital Guru. This guide should help you to understand the media and PR for business in the modern age. This part focuses on Media Relations.
A HEALTHY appetite is a good thing. That counts double for any businesses with a hunger to improve its profile.
Entrepreneurs and inspirational leaders are usually adept at understanding and earning media coverage. They know that a rich diet of healthy mentions in credible news sources is a great way to help a business grow.
But you don’t have to be Richard Branson or the boss of a multinational to get your fill of nutritious media headlines. Anyone in business can maintain a healthy diet. You just need to know which experts can help guide you to make the best possible choices.
A decade ago the “media” was pretty much newspapers, magazines, trade publications and broadcasters, with the earliest bloggers starting to get some recognition. Since then there has been a communications revolution and the media has expanded beyond anything we could once have imagined and now spans a world of digital platforms – from Twitter and Facebook, to YouTube and Instagram and many more beyond.
What this means is that the media landscape is more fractured and complex than ever. So if you are a business owner or manager trying to work out where to focus your efforts, it can seem easier just not to bother.
Let us persuade you otherwise, because the flip side is that there has never been such a rich array of media opportunities. Think of it like this:
Traditionally the media was like a ‘Specials Board’ in your favourite restaurant, with just a few tasty – but limited – options. Often everybody wanted the same thing, so availability could be scarce.
Now the media is more like a smorgasbord, offering a huge selection. The kind of spread where you could graze all day and where you’ll always find something you fancy.
With so many outlets keen to hear news from businesses, there has never been a better time to reach your audience in many different ways. The secret to unlocking all this potential is in finding the right public relations experts to work with.
That means a PR agency that still has an impressive black book of contacts in the traditional, media, as well as the chops to produce rich multi-media content to win over bloggers and other online influencers. All topped off with a rich and demonstrable understanding of social and digital media.
Searching for the ideal PR agency to work with your business? Check out our three essential business guides on what to look for:
PR STARTER PACK – explains what to look for in terms of PR costs, PR personnel, and the secret sauce that makes a great agency.
PR JIGSAW – Solves the puzzle of whether you need long term PR support, a one off project, a launch/event or something a wee bit different.
THROUGH THE KEYHOLE – Explains the inner workings of a PR agency so you know how often you should meet and receive reports as well as how success can be measured.
Here is our list of must-read suggestions on why media relations is essential to your business
1 – REACH
Many naysayers predicted that media relations (along with newspapers and magazines) would die a death at the hands of social networks.
In fact, the opposite is true. While print circulations may be dwindling, newspapers and traditional news providers have never reached more people, thanks to their websites.
While the likes of the Mail Online and the Guardian reach countless millions of web browsers every day, Scottish titles like The Scotsman more than hold their own with millions of digital visitors – and local, weekly newspapers have also built thriving website where they share stories and photos once confined to print.
2 – TRUST
The fractured natures of the media means it is increasingly difficult to know who to trust.
And that’s just the fun stuff. The internet is awash with people creating “content” which is wilfully misleading, malicious or misinformed.
As Churchill pointed out, a lie can be half way round the world before the truth has got its boots on. An adage which is more relevant than ever in the digital age.
Against that kind of backdrop, the most credible news outlets have become even more important.
The web may have changed lots of things, but bona fide journalists still go out of their way to fact check, verify and balance the stories the print.
3 – SOCIAL
Your Facebook feed wouldn’t be complete without an amusing cat pic or the latest post about some “friend’s” new baby. Instagram seems dedicated to pouty selfies and food pics, while Twitter is a never-ending stream of other people’s opinions.
But the backbone of those social media channels is good, old-fashioned news. Whether it is broadsheet political analysis or quirky stories from the likes of BuzzFeed.
Social media is ‘real time’ – and the glue that holds it all together is the latest news.
When a story is unfolding where do you turn? Chances are you check your social media feeds – and it is there people are sharing news stories from bona fide news outlets.
For most businesses the chances of their Tweets or Facebook updates being picked up by the mainstream media are remote (unless something goes horribly wrong).
However, businesses which appear in the media will see their stories shared widely on social media.
4 – SEARCH
When customers are looking for new products or services, the vast majority of them will start out at the search box of either Google or Bing.
So it is vital that your business appears on page one of the results for the most important key words related to your business or sector.
This has become so crucial that it spawned an entire new sector that barely existed a decade ago: search engine optimisation (SEO). An army of SEO experts now help businesses to appear on that all important first page of results.
Of course, you can always pay to get onto page one, via Google’s ad services. But it can be costly and as soon as the money runs out, your first page ranking disappears.
The harsh reality is that to appear in the organic search results on page one takes loads of time, effort and commitment.
However, mentions in bona fide media sites are a huge help, because Google regards them highly.
So, having a great media profile not only helps readers to get positive messages about you – it also tells Google that you are worth paying attention, and helps with that page one ranking on search results.
5 – ENDORSEMENT
You can’t buy your way into the news. You can’t pay to have a story appear in the news pages or bulletins of any credible media outlet.
Positive media report about your business is an extremely valuable, independent third party endorsement.
As the old saying goes, advertising is when you pay to tell people how good you are. Media coverage is when someone else tells the world how good you are.
People understand that a news story has been through a set of well-regarded and thorough filters.
Writers and editors have tested it for accuracy, sought alternative views to help balance it out – and rigorously sense-checked it to make sure it is either interesting, entertaining or informative.
While there’s nothing wrong with good advertising, people read it with their guard up. They instinctively understand it is a paid for message, direct from the brand itself.
In simple terms, advertising is what you pay for. Positive media coverage is what you pray for.
6 – INFLUENCE
Every business is trying to exert a wee bit of influence. Usually they are hoping to convince and convert potential customers to purchase their products or service.
But they may also be trying to influence banks, investors, trade bodies, potential new staff, lawmakers, policy makers, agenda setters of tastemakers.
Positive media coverage is still one of the most powerful levers of influence. For all of the reasons already outlined, a strong media profile gives out all of the right signals.
Think of it like this: if you were trying to convince a bank or an investor to put up the money to develop your business further, would you feel more confident showing them a selection of positive business stories in credible media outlets – or a selection of Tweets and Facebook Likes?
Of course social media has and increasingly important role to play, but it is still hard to beat the buzz, kudos and clout that comes with weighty media coverage.
Still need persuading? Think of the phone calls and message you’d get from your mother and friends you haven’t spoken to a while after appearing in a major news article. Then ask yourself if the same thing is likely to happened when you post on LinkedIn or update your Facebook status.
7 – FEELGOOD
People like to feel valued.
That is especially true of any workforce. Your staff and colleagues want to know they are appreciated.
Few things do that better than positive media coverage. Upbeat stories about successful business are a superb validation of the people who work in them.
Staff who are proud to work with a businesses feel even more so when their efforts are recognised and reflected in well-rounded media coverage.
Likewise, when it comes to attracting the best talent, it’s not always about who is offering the most money. Many workers are more likely to seek work with the companies which have the better profile – as they naturally seem the more respected and rewarding places to work
Ultimately a happier workforce is generally a more productive workforce. Win win.
Have we whetted your appetite for the power of media relations? Then it’s time you spoke with Scotland’s most outstanding Small PR agency
There are plenty more reasons why the most savvy businesses use effective media relations and public relations to get ahead of the competiton.
If you are hungry for an enhanced profile and greatere business success, we’d love the chance to explain how professional PR services can help.
We’d love the chance to chat with you about how we can help your business. Simply phone us on 0131 561 2244 or fill in the simple form below and we’ll get straight back to you:
Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood Partnership, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.
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