Unlocking the power of the media

Bill Gates once said that if he was down to his last marketing dollar he would spend it on media relations.

The reason is simple – media relations is powerful and incredibly cost effective. You can reach a mass audience or focus on a particular target sector for a fraction of the cost of advertising.

One press release can achieve thousands of pounds worth of publicity for an investment of just a few hundred pounds.

Since Bill Gates made his remarks the sphere of influence for media relations has increased dramatically through the emergence of social media networks and the rise of web sites hungry for news and information.

This has increased the audience potential substantially and has also brought the opportunity for potential customers to interact with you in a way hard copy media never could.

Now your audience can share your news with friends and associates and give their endorsement to it.

Its taken media relations to a whole new level. Now if the story is interesting enough it can literally go global – and you don’t always have to be member of a boy band announcing early retirement!

Of course, to be successful at gaining positive coverage requires the right skills and experience. It helps to know what makes a good story and how to present it.

Before you can gain coverage you have to pass the scrutiny of journalists. If your press release doesn’t meet their criteria for news worthiness it will fall at the first hurdle.

The clever stuff is then to use your news to blend in your key messages to influence or persuade your target audience.

Try to be too sales focused and journalists will hit the delete button. People want to be informed, even entertained but not to be sold to. An intelligent and subtle approach often pays dividends.

Media relations is a particularly useful marketing tool for the franchise sector. It is a cost effective method to raise and maintain brand awareness for the franchisor.

It can deliver information about products and services to a targeted audience and it can help boost individual franchisees through coverage in their local papers, business magazines and social networks.

It’s especially productive at attracting potential franchisees by generating awareness of opportunities and building a picture of a company and the lifestyle it can offer its franchisee.

Media relations is more than just a method for spreading good news. It can be used to help position companies and individuals as authorities in their field of operations.

It can help educate, remove misconceptions and be a powerful persuader and influencer.

It can be used to solve problems. For example, the home care sector has rapidly become a major service sector in the UK and one that is heavily franchised. With an ageing population getting customers isn’t the biggest challenge for providers – getting good quality care staff is.

I’ve helped one of the UK’s leading providers solve this problem by using media relations to attract staff at the fraction of the cost of recruitment advertising.

When you are putting together your business development strategy don’t discount media relations for it remains one of the most powerful and cost effective marketing tools available.