Media Relations Is Not Dead

A secret to successful media relations is a comprehensive media audit to discover where your stories appear, what key messages are conveyed and whether coverage hurts or helps your reputation.Media coverage can make organizations smile, sigh or grimace. But too few organizations take stock of the cumulative impact of their media coverage to see how it affects their reputation or reflects their intended key messages.

The digital age has turned media coverage on its head. You now need to track a lot more than the local newspaper and television stations. There are media tracking services and software to aid in compiling clips from a wide array of sources. Some services even provide a basic level of analysis of the coverage.

However you collect your media mentions, it pays to take the time to conduct a thorough media audit on your own. Here are some important things to look for:

1. Where did stories about you appear?  Separate your clips into relevant categories — local newspaper, local radio and TV, national media and blogs. This will give you a clear sense of where your stories resonate best.

2. What stories curried the most interest?  Without looking back, it is easy to forget or overlook which stories you pitched earned the most coverage. A look-back can give clues on what to pitch in the coming year to maximize your chances of success.

3. What reporters or bloggers showed the most and least interest?  Charting your relationship with individual reporters and bloggers can reveal your go-to places and the places you need to build more rapport. 

4. Which source got your stories in circulation best?  Did your online newsroom provide useful links to reporters and bloggers? Were you successful in self-publishing press releases that got wider circulation? Did services such as Business Newswire produce results? Look at successes, failures and trends. 

5. Was your media strategy integrated with other communications tools?  For example, did the media pick up links to you blog, new features on your website or social media posts? How well did your media relations reinforce your marketing outreach or support increased engagement? Does media coverage drive more clicks on your website? What can you do differently to forge better integration?

6. Did your messages come across?  When you earned media coverage, did it convey your key messages? If not, where was the breakdown — in interviews with your spokespersons, a lack of background materials or cloudy key messages?

7. Did you anticipate and prepare for a communications crisis?  Reviewing a year's worth of media coverage can remind of you of tight scrapes, even if they didn't make it into print or online. The question to ask is whether you anticipated what could have happened and prepared.

8. Did your coverage enhance your reputation or brand?  Maybe most important of all, did the aggregated media coverage enhance or detract from your reputation or brand? Did you consider the effect of individual media efforts on your reputation or brand? How could you make this essential consideration a routine part of your media operation?

Contrary to some opinion, media relations is not dead. But it may not be doing its job in a more complex, competitive environment. A media audit can open your eyes to what's working, what's not and what you can do about it.