By Harvey Hudes, Founder, Caliber Corporate Advisers
Last year, the CEO of a well-established B2B company approached us and rather quickly asked us to become their PR agency. This seemed like a great opportunity that any smart business owner would jump at immediately. We’ve found, however, that it’s becoming increasingly important to run some analytics and properly set the groundwork before jumping into a new client relationship.
After learning more about his objectives and why he wanted PR, I started to wonder what the media opportunity for this company truly was. The fact of the matter is B2B services aren’t always considered the ‘sexiest’ topic of conversation, so ensuring there is an interesting story to tell and good places to tell it is crucial.
In this situation, my initial reservations made me question whether or not a significant media opportunity existed. At the end of the day, if a company is investing in PR then they should expect a return on investment — and if the opportunity appears more limited than originally thought, we believe it’s our job to say so.
While it’s always hard to say no to a new business opportunity (the mantra ‘any business is good business’ comes to mind) — the reality is that saying ‘yes’ to new business where the true media opportunity may be limited can actually have negative ramifications. These limitations could be due to a variety of factors from a lack of appetite among journalists to lack of availability or interest from a client in commenting on relevant topics — and everything in between.
To determine how to move forward, we analyzed media coverage for this company’s sector and key competitors — a practice that we have found to be extremely worthwhile when assessing the true media opportunity for any company. Essentially, this involves taking a step back and evaluating the industry landscape, asking questions like:
- Are competitors getting coverage?
- Are journalists taking notice of their business, industry, or related topics?
Ultimately we’re trying to determine if the media wants to hear what you have to say. While this may seem a bit callous, it’s the truth — and it doesn’t mean that potential clients don’t care about your business or that your story doesn’t matter. Instead, this analysis helps determine an appropriate base-level understanding of how media are likely to react to your story. It’s our job as a partner to take that information and find other ways to incorporate the company, its data and/or spokespeople into additional potential story angles and topics.
As consultants who take pride in building relationships with the media, we want to deliver the best results to every client and it is our job to craft a story that journalists will care about. Conducting research prior to working with a company allows us to take a more methodical approach in evaluating the current media landscape, and where and how, a company can fit into the conversation and news cycle.
After working with the CEO of this new prospective client, and looking at the statistics that resulted from our research, we both agreed there was actually a bigger opportunity to reach their target audience through content marketing. Educating this particular company’s target audience in a more controlled manner — through blogs, whitepapers and contributed articles — seemed to offer a greater return on their investment.
As cliché as it sounds, an agency should be viewed as an extension of your team and therefore look out for the best interest of the company. In short, here is a checklist to take into consideration when evaluating your true PR opportunity:
- Are your competitors being mentioned in the press?
- If they aren’t seeing media coverage, why not?
If your competitors are seeing media coverage, what value can your company contribute to expand, complement or differentiate your views from the ongoing conversation?
- Do you have strong opinions on issues that you feel should be discussed?
- What conversation do you want to start?
- Is there a bigger trend out there that your company can tie its story to?
- If your company doesn’t want to be proactive in the media but you feel like your overall messaging and communication tactics are not as clear and effective as they could be, how can you refine them?
So, to answer my own question, “is your company media worthy?”…
It depends — and trust me, I know that’s everyone’s favorite response. By analyzing the current media interest in topics and issues that your company cares about, you can better establish a baseline understanding of what opportunity is out there right now.
As for how this answer will evolve over time — perhaps the better question is, how can your company be media worthy? Whether you have the expertise internally or you’re working with an outside partner, the key is to continue to develop new angles and ways of telling your story through data, commentary, content marketing, partnerships, and other avenues that can help raise your company’s profile to ultimately meet your business goals.