National Media: Golden Ticket or Red Herring?

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In our business, we work with the media on a daily basis.

We write. We pitch. We call. We email. We call again. And often, we land a story.

And for clients, achieving mainstream, national exposure is regularly perceived to be the golden ticket. 

“If we get into this newspaper or on that site, then we will reach the most people and see our brand go to the next level.”

National exposure can, of course, be a very effective tool…but only in the context of the overall strategy. 

The golden ticket is sometimes a red herring. 

[n.b. we promise we’ll limit the colour-based analogies from here on in]

The largest audience is not always the right audience

We are often approached by clients who have great stories and clear objectives, and it is then our job to shape a media strategy that conveys the key messages and achieves those goals. And bigger is not always better.

Successful campaigns always have a clear target audience and defined objectives. It is a far better use of time and money identifying the media your intended audience actually engage with, rather than simply aiming for the largest readership.

A smaller, engaged audience is almost always a more effective strategy than a larger, passive audience.

Media engagement must compliment the wider communications strategy

So many of our clients have said to us, “yes we did get a story in [insert national publication here] but it didn’t really make much difference to our audience engagement”.

The reason?

The national exposure was not planned as part of a wider strategy. Media exposure only contributes positive results when it is consistent with additional supporting communications activities and when all those activities are working in cohesive coordination to present a compelling and clear message for the campaign.

In isolation, national media exposure rarely makes a difference however much of a coup it may be, but when it is achieved in the context of multiple, aligned communications impressions, then audiences engage and brand equity increases.

There are certainly opportunities where national media can prove to be a useful tool in achieving campaign objectives and increasing brand equity. However, unless the audience is clearly defined and media engagement is part of a multi channel strategy, it is unlikely to produce the desired results.