Every brand has dreams of being the next golden child, the “it” brand every editor is clamoring to cover. While it often seems like certain brands come out of nowhere and become media darlings instantly, this is rarely the case. Instead, the magic occurs with brands who understand the value of public relations, how the editorial process works and who have a strong brand foundation.
If you’re a brand struggling to achieve the media coverage of your dreams, check out the following red flags. It just might be your approach that is ultimately sabotaging your success.
1. You’re Micromanaging Your Agency
Sure, having faith that your PR agency is actively pitching and planning on your behalf can be a scary thing, particularly in the first few months of a relationship.
If you are doing any of the following: changing priorities because of a lack of movement, asking your agency to act as a marketing or sales team, demanding highly specific reporting requirements or sending numerous emails throughout the week asking for status checks on various priorities, you are hindering the process. The more you insert new expectations and demand communication with your agency beyond the processes already put into place, the less time your agency is able to do outreach on your behalf. The result? Your retainer dollars are going toward managing the relationship, rather than reaching out to editors.
2. You’re stingy with samples
For fashion, beauty and consumer brands, physical product samples are essential. When you are planning out your production schedule, it is important to account for all possible sample opportunities and ensure you are stocked up (and that your budget has accommodated for this expense as its own thing – not part of your PR budget). If you are targeting stores with a sales team as well as media opportunities you will likely need at least two sets of samples.
If you are hoping to secure celebrity and influencer placements, you will need to produce enough gifting samples to meet those objectives as well. Unless you are offering high-end red carpet pieces, you need to be prepared to gift samples to celebrities and influencers, and you need to recognize that not every gifting opportunity will lead to a placement opportunity (and that not every editor sample will be returned quickly, or at all).
3. You Have Limited or Poor Product Photography
Images anchor all communications to media these days and your product photography will absolutely affect your chances of securing media coverage. If you are sending over manufacturer images, low-res or small images, or even editorial-style photography that reads low-budget, you won’t be taken seriously in the eyes of the media. Your PR agency needs a variety of product images, using professional models, taken by an experienced photographer.
4. You don’t have any product stills
We’ve established that photography is a huge asset to your PR team, but you need to do more than share photos on models. If you don’t also have images of all your products, shot on a plain white background, you are severely limiting your press opportunities. Many media outlets rely on these type of product images from brands to create layouts and quickly move on a digital slideshow. Product stills allow editors to work with your products any way that they need – even placing your product among others in a way that looks like it was shot in a studio.
5. You’re not willing to evolve
We get it – you are working hard to grow your brand from multiple angles, perhaps you’ve helped to build it from scratch, and you are heavily invested in its mission. However, you hired your agency for their expertise; publicists know the messaging, styles and trends impacting your category, and their advice on everything from your collection itself to packaging, is invaluable. In particular, discounting any editor feedback is a huge mistake.
We recently had an editor who loved a brand’s products at a deskside, but when we followed up, the editor indicated that the brand’s social media presence, in particular, the imagery was not strong enough for them to consider covering the brand in their outlet. This was not the first time we had shared similar feedback, yet the brand took a defensive stance.
If your publicist is lucky enough elicit direct feedback about your brand, that information can be invaluable to the brand that listens, and adjusts accordingly.
6. You only see print media as successful media coverage
There is something amazing about holding a physical piece of media in your hands and seeing your product included in a photo shoot, your CEO interviewed, your company listed as one to watch. But putting an over-emphasis on print media indicates not only an outdated understanding of media but also how consumer shop for and discover new products and brands. Media is changing at a fast and furious pace, and brands that try to manage their PR strategy with methods used even five years ago will find their efforts are falling flat. Online outlets are looking to cover brands that have affiliate programs in place or sell to stores that do, and media outlets are increasingly dedicating more editorial space to brands that generate revenue for the outlet or offer readers deals and discounts along with countless other changes. It is important to keep up with the latest media movements and trends and pay attention to the tactics that do and don’t work.
There are new digital marketing strategies that can integrate with digital PR outreach. In particular, Media is changing at a fast and furious pace, and brands that try to manage their PR strategy with methods used even five years ago will find their efforts are falling flat. Online outlets are looking to cover brands that have affiliate programs in place or who sell to stores that do. These media outlets are increasingly dedicating more editorial space to brands that can generate revenue or offer readers deals and discounts along with countless other changes. It is important to keep up with the latest media movements and trends and pay attention to the tactics that do and don’t work.
If you are pushing your PR agency to focus solely on traditional tactics, you’re risking being passed over for brands who have a better understanding of the current media landscape.
From empowering your agency to try something new, trusting in their expertise and providing the assets necessary for them to be successful, you increase your chances of landing coverage that truly impacts your brand. Sometimes, we all need to take a step back and understand that we ourselves might be the biggest bottleneck to progress. If you are willing to honestly assess your own role in helping or hindering your PR efforts, you’ll find that a few pivots here and there can make all the difference.