Yes, You Can Still Get Organic Media Coverage — and Here's Why You Should Some may tell you it's now only a pay-to-play world, but that's not true in the slightest.
- When you're open to the possibilities of organic media, you'll have the best outcomes for your PR efforts.
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Picture this: You just hired a new PR agency, and you're excited to get the ball rolling. You've sent over all of your assets and information on key spokespeople and hear that you have interest from a major outlet. Fantastic news!
But then, the other shoe drops — your PR agency tells you there's a fee for this coverage. In fact, they say that's just how media works these days. You have to pay to play.
Don't believe that for a moment.
We've recently heard about this scenario more and more from our clients. Others have told them that they have to not only fork over the cost of PR management, but also fees to actually be included in that coverage. However, that's not media coverage. It's advertising, and it should be flagged with a "sponsored" or "advertising" disclaimer in the publication or broadcast segment.
As a journalist and PR agency owner, I've been on both sides of this table, and I'm always disappointed to hear the prevailing belief that pay-to-play is the only option. While there are many pay-to-play opportunities out there, and they're certainly a possibility if you want to invest in them, true editorial coverage is very much thriving and beneficial.
If you have expertise and a great story to tell, you are of immense value to a journalist. If your PR agency is reaching out to the right media lists, creatively sharing your story and expertise and having enough patience to learn and reiterate based on the responses, you'll secure organic opportunities.
It's worth taking the time to go after non-paid coverage as a major part of your media strategy — and here are three reasons why.
1. It builds trust with your audience
Organic media coverage builds an immense amount of credibility with your target customers. This social proof, the fact that a respected outlet trusts your company enough to feature it organically, is really the bread and butter of PR.
In addition to building brand visibility and nurturing your existing audience, organic coverage will also help you approach potential business partners or investors with evidence that outlets and their consumers trust your company.
2. It shapes real relationships with journalists
When a journalist finds value in your expertise, they'll know to turn to you time after time for quotes. There are certain experts in the health and wellness fields that I've interviewed for close to 10 years as a journalist, which has led to many media opportunities for those experts across publications.
Remember, journalists change jobs (and freelance — a lot). That means connecting with one journalist in a serviceable, organic way to contribute to their story could open the door to several other outlets in the short term or long term.
3. It can have immense SEO value
Generally, serviceable articles with organic media placements stay online for years — meaning they continue to drive traffic to your site. These articles are often updated, but your expert quotes will typically remain untouched.
With pay-to-play, it's sometimes difficult to tell what will happen to the sponsored content unless those details are written into your contract.
Tips for organic and paid media
If you're having trouble securing organic media, reconsider the value you're offering journalists. Do you have interesting article ideas (that go beyond features on your company), great expertise or a fascinating story to share? Can you give them something valuable — like an emerging trend you've noticed in your industry or a secret technique for doing something better — that they can take to their pitch meetings and impress their editor with?
When you approach organic media with the intention of providing, you'll get the coverage and receive so much more in return. True journalism is very much alive and reporters are constantly looking for ways to serve their audiences with value.
With that in mind, remember that a journalist should never accept payment for including you in an article that's not clearly labeled as pay-to-play. Guaranteed press coverage from a publicist (i.e., "I promise to get you published in these ten national outlets!") likely involves pay-to-play.
Finally, if you do choose to invest in pay-to-play media, here are a few questions to ask first:
- How large is the audience that will be exposed to this placement?
- Who is that audience (the more details, the better), and how do they align with your target audience persona?
- If it's a print placement, will your product also be promoted in a digital edition or on social media?
When you're open to the possibilities of organic media — and savvy in choosing pay-to-play opportunities, if you want those to be part of your strategy — you'll have the best outcomes for your PR efforts.