Getting the media coverage or community response you want isn’t always easy. But less than successful results don’t always have to keep you from achieving your goals.
It happens to the most well-known of organizations from those consistently in the news to others that are less familiar: Media coverage is lacking for reasons ranging from poor attendance at press conferences to brief or no mention by the media of events that are covered. In the case of those marketing products, there may be frustration with the realization that what they are attempting to sell the public on just isn’t catching fire.
In all of the cases the reasons may be varied. Additionally, you may be doing things on your end that are preventing your message from being delivered effectively.
The explanations for press conferences that are not well attended are numerous:
- You may have been upstaged by an event across town.
- Your press conference may have also been scheduled on the day of a major disaster somewhere else in the world.
- You may have scheduled your press conference at a time that is inconvenient for certain media outlets.
Regardless of the reasons, it is your job to get on the telephone and determine why the media wasn’t there. In cases where you do not receive the coverage you want, a phone call may also be necessary. It is important in doing so not to be confrontational but only express your disappointment.
Poor media coverage may also be the result of a personality crisis, which is discussed in another article. Overcoming this, like any other obstacles in public relations, is of the utmost importance.
In marketing, the coverage and response you want involves knowing where to pitch the products you are promoting. An entrepreneur in Alabama lost a substantial sum of money several years ago when he attempted to convince local grocery stores to sell bottled water on which he had placed Bible verses and images of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He failed in his efforts because he was approaching the wrong markets. Rather than attempting to sell the water directly to churches that could use it for ministry, he was hawking his product to stores that were uninterested because they were buying bottled water from larger, more established producers.
A failure to consistently receive the coverage or response you are hoping for offers an opportunity for introspection. If the media is not responding to your message there are certain questions that should be considered:
- Are you promoting your organization in the most positive manner possible?
- Is your message being communicated clearly? Is it a message residents of your community will be receptive to?
- Are you doing the right things in regard to contacting and following up with the media?
- Are you targeting the right audience?
- Is the product you are marketing something there is a need for? If so, are you releasing information that lets consumers know that? Have you effectively shared the news if there have been improvements to the products or services you provide?
Without doubt, the information you want to share is important. Going the extra mile in working with the media to get your word out, as well as examining your approach will prove invaluable in that effort.
Having a Presence in the Community
Your organization’s name may be familiar, but does the public only hear about you when you are promoting your own interests? Specifically, is your organization publicizing itself in a way that makes the community like you?
The mere mention of certain celebrities, companies, or events can evoke positive images. The same holds true for your organization. The community’s perception of your organization is based on more than just the information you share.
Developing a positive image involves putting your name in front of people. There is nothing like name recognition, a fact demonstrated by candidates who win elections based largely on voter familiarity with their names.
Accomplishing the goal of getting an organization’s name before the public can involve anything from participation in disaster relief efforts or sponsoring free community events, to partnering with other organizations in financially supporting projects that will improve life for area residents.
When Katrina struck businesses like Old Navy, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, and American Airlines among others received extensive media coverage for their efforts in helping disaster victims. Likewise, singer Harry Connick Jr. was out offering assistance to victims, while others like author John Grisham were donating millions for disaster relief. While their efforts were sincere, they also gained by having their names in front of the public in a positive fashion.
But promoting a positive image doesn’t have to wait for tragedy. Major corporations often sponsor stages at music festivals across the country. The result is that the mention of their name reminds people of the good times they had at such events.
Each spring, Schaeffer Eye Care Center in Birmingham, Alabama, sponsors a crawfish boil. The event runs two days and features bands playing in the street, food vendors, artists, and other attractions. Every time I hear the name Schaeffer Eye Care, I think of seafood, live music, and fun with friends. As a result, Schaeffer would be the first place I would visit for eye care. You can’t buy publicity like that.
Just as certain names and organizations create positive perceptions, the same also holds true for negative connotations that exist for certain politicians, companies, or products. Certain organizations struggle for years with the albatross of a bad image. The reason is that there has been bad publicity in the past, yet no attempts have been made to rehabilitate their image.
Is your name associated with scandal, unethical business practices, poor service, or other situations? If this is the case, it is your job to help in rebuilding a new image. The failure to regain a positive name for your organization can ultimately overshadow other efforts.
Getting the name of an organization that already evokes a positive image before the public is easy. The only challenge is finding creative and effective ways to accomplish that. Promoting an organization that is regarded less favorably presents more of a challenge, but is crucial.
Getting an organization’s name before the public can be accomplished both for a popular establishment along with one that may have baggage, and is a basic responsibility of any public relations professional.