Why PR works – in certain circumstances

I just realized that I’ve been effectively persuaded by skilled media relations experts to spend money in favor of their clients.

My experience – which you’ll see is highly unique to me – highlights some strengths of good media relations that you can apply and also some weaknesses you can work around.

Here are the purchases:

  • I took my teenage son on a long weekend trip to northern South Carolina – we live near Salt Lake City.
  • I sat in the eighth row at midcourt for a Sweet Sixteen showdown between two teams I don’t follow.
  • I bought a book about the battle between Amazon and Walmart, even though I don’t care about ecommerce.

When I looked back, I realized that all three of those were direct results of reading boatloads of incredible media coverage secured by Inner Circle members!

Greenville, South Carolina, has been repped by Taryn Scher for years. I’ve read so many of her placements about Soby's restaurant and its vaunted banana cream pie that I found a way to get there and eat it – and I don’t even like bananas!

SeatGeek, the ticket reseller app, has enjoyed great coverage thanks to IC member Cameron Papp. After maybe the fourth or fifth cool placement he shared with me, I downloaded it (and not its larger competitor StubHub, I realize now) and started messing around with it. Such that a few Saturdays ago I looked at it and realized the price to get into March Madness wasn’t as high as I thought, so I watched Gonzaga beat Kansas.

And Winner Sells All isn’t a book I would have noticed, until I read five fawning articles about it, all placed by IC member Jessica Krakoski. So I finally caved and clicked that orange button on Amazon.

The catch: You probably noticed that repetition was key here. Because I didn’t have a vested interest in those topics (outside of my connection to their PR pros), I wouldn’t have consistently seen multiple pieces about them. And it took many “touches” to get me to change my behavior.

My recommendation: If your goal is to change behavior, redouble your efforts in targeted or niche media that your ideal target audience members consume regularly. Those are the publications where you have the best chance to get noticed repeatedly enough to actually change minds. Although it’s tempting to go for big, broad vanity outlets like The New York Times, even if you’re lucky enough to win, you’ll likely only win once.

That said, if you’re satisfied with simply landing a credible reference piece that could show up in search results, then those one-off top-tier placements can still be valuable. Some campaigns exist primarily to win coverage that can then be cited to justify a Wikipedia entry!

Congratulations to Taryn, Cameron and Jessica for winning me over, and I wish you happy hunting as you seek consistency in your target media.

This article was originally published on April 3, 2024

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