Five reasons why your business can’t live without traditional media

Credibility is the currency of the Reputation Economy. If you don’t have credibility, you won’t have a solid reputation. Don’t have a solid reputation? Bye-bye business.
 
The awesome news is that, while putting your own material out there through social media isn’t going to gain you a huge amount of credibility, your reputation can get a turbo-charge through getting coverage in the good old-fashioned media – like TV, radio and newspapers (which are largely digital these days).
 
Here’s the fantastic thing; getting positive stories about your business into the mainsteam media helps launch positive conversations in social media – which is what really influences what others think of you. How good is that!!
 
Great media coverage used to be important in its own right. Now, it’s the ripple effect through social media that gives traditional media coverage its real grunt.
 
Even better, I’m talking here about FREE media coverage. That’s right, gratis! Sure, there are ways to pay to get into the media – through advertising, advertorials (where you buy an ad and get a story thrown in as part of the deal), or programs that charge people and feature their products or services. 
 
Advertising and paid segments are what keeps the media’s wheels in motion, but what I’m referring to is the other side of the media; the stories that are covered by journalists as their bread-and-butter job of reporting on new and interesting things.  The media can simply decide to write a story about your business for FREE, because you have something newsworthy to offer.
 
Here are five massive benefits you’ll get from traditional media.

1. Credibility (there’s that word again). In our over-reviewed, easily influenced world, it’s hard to imagine anything more potent and persuasive than a positive testimonial from someone completely independent, with absolutely no vested interest in your business or organization. A positive media story is the ultimate testimonial, telling the world that you are considered worthy of singling out (in a good way) through a public communication channel. 

To put it bluntly, a sure-fire way to super-charge your credibility is to get interviewed in the media.
 
Here’s the irony; even though most people don’t trust journalists (and I say this with love as a former journo myself), they tend to give more weight to a story written by a journalist than, say, similar information on your business website or Facebook page.
 
People generally have a pretty sharp BS meter. At some level, they know you or someone paid by you writes your marketing material, but a media story comes from an outside source, an independent third party.
 
Media coverage amplifies your message, and just the appearance of the story gives you credibility (provided, of course, that the story is positive).

2. Positioning. You know how real estate agents have the catch cry “location, location, location”? Well, yours needs to be “position, position, position”! Having a journalist interview you or write a positive story about you stamps you as an industry leader.  That positioning will rub off into other areas of your business or organization. People will talk about the story, and next time they hear about you – through one of your other forms of marketing – they will already feel familiar with you and what you do.  

It’s like “pre-networking” (actually, I think I just made that word up!) I’ve seen, first hand, how well this works.
 
Have you ever been to a networking function, where you’ve wanted to approach someone about doing business, and you felt like a total desperado? Perhaps it’s a client you’ve been chasing for a long time. It just feels awkward to front up to them and make small talk, in the hope that it will lead to something fruitful.
 
I worked with a business owner who felt just like that. He wasn’t a natural-born networker, and disliked going to functions where he had to make the approach to people. It just didn’t come easily, and he never won any business that way.
 
After we got him and his business into a couple of positive media stories, voila, the flood-gates opened! Now, when he goes to the very same networking events, people come up to him because they’ve seen him on the news. One customer he’d been chasing for years actually approached him, and he now does work with them! The positioning and profile of positive media stories made all the difference.
 
Here’s another tip; “old-fashioned” media coverage is like the wash on your marketing canvas. It provides background and (here it is again) credibility, so your other marketing efforts become more effective. I’ve seen this in action many times.
 
3. Reach. A media story, whether online, on air or in print, will get you in front of people. Even a small media story will have an impact; you’ll be surprised at how many people will see it. Many of these will be people outside your own social media or communication network.  

It’s what you do next with the media story that really counts. Read on!

4. Leverage: This one is the real kicker. Traditional media and social media are a match made in heaven if you know how to play the game.

Remember what I said about the real power of media coverage being its ripple effect through social media? That’s so true. The media story is a means to an end, not the end in itself. You can amplify your results by using the media story to blast positive messages through social media.
 
Let’s say you attract the interest of a media outlet in a story about your business. This is a great opportunity for you to leverage that story and get additional promotion through your other channels.
 
For example, I worked with one business that wanted to increase its profile and positioning. We identified a great story angle and got a local newspaper interested. The paper arranged to send a photographer to the business. When they arrived, I arranged for photos to be taken of the photographer taking their photos.
 
We then posted photos of the photo shoot on social media with messages saying ‘look out for our story’. Through various posts, we created anticipation about the story and let customers and suppliers know to keep a look out. That made for some positive and interesting social media material, rather than just general promotional blah.
 
When the story appeared in the paper and on the paper’s website, we were able to do more social media posts and include a link to the online version of the story. We also attached a clipping from the digital edition for people to download. We stretched that one story out to three more social media posts.
 
There were lots of ‘likes’, ‘shares’ and comments in response go our social media activity, which generated a positive conversation. That packed way more punch than just the media story alone.
 
5. The cumulative effect: Back when I was a reporter, I had my favourites. These were people who understood what I wanted in a story and respected my deadlines. They were able to come up with interesting angles, and didn’t waste my time expecting free ads. Some were government managers, others were business owners or individuals. Over time, I developed a relationship with them and they were the first ones I called on a quiet news day or if I was looking for a comment on a story that related to their sector. Over the years, these people and businesses achieved a huge amount of free coverage.
 
Getting a positive story in the media can lead to great opportunities for even more coverage. It’s the start of ongoing credibility-building – the gift that keeps on giving.
 
I worked with one super-smart business woman who owned a shop in a slightly run-down area that was on the up and up. We got our heads together and she got some great media coverage about the revitalization of the neighbourhood. That led to another story, and next thing you know, the media are going to her for comment on related stories about that suburb. She went from unknown to a go-to media magnet in a very short time.  What do you reckon that did for her business?!
 
If it’s so great, why isn’t everyone doing it?
 
Excellent question. It’s pretty simple really. Most business operators don’t go after traditional media coverage because they don’t know where to start. And why would they? Journalists work in a different world to the rest of us (I know this first-hand!) and it can be a hard code to crack if you don’t know how.
 
I’m here to help you with that.
 
Secondly, some people shy away from the media because they’re worried about being misquoted or having the encounter turn into a negative story. You need to remember that it’s the journalist’s job to cover a story rather than simply promoting what you have to say and giving your business a free boost – but if you understand how the game is played, you’ll walk away with a really positive story that gives the journo what they need AND gives you amazing, free promotion along with all the other benefits I’ve outlined.
 
I’ve seen many businesses struggle in this Reputation Economy, because so much of our marketing now relies on social media where we’re competing with a bombardment of information.
 
Don’t get me wrong, social media is hugely important and I’m not suggesting you ignore it. Just realize its limitations.
 
So, look beyond social media – and even better, use it to amplify your other promotional efforts, including traditional media. Traditional media isn’t a ‘has-been’; it’s alive and well, and waiting for you to get on board.
 
Getting media coverage will help your business go from UNKNOWN to UNSTOPPABLE and, even better, you won’t need a big budget to get real results.


P.S. If this post gave you some great tips, I’d be honoured if you would share this!

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Neryl East

Neryl East is a reputation, communication and media expert who shows businesses and organisations how to stand out - for the right reasons! EDUCATION: PhD in Journalism, University of Wollongong Master of Arts, University of Wollongong Certificate IV Training and Assessment (TAFE NSW) International Certificate of Public Participation (IAP2) EMPLOYMENT HISTORY: Director - Neryl East Communications Pty Limited Manager Communications and Public Relations - Wollongong City Council Manager Media and Communications - Shellharbour City Council Head of Communications and Marketing - Australian War Memorial Lecturer and tutor - University of Wollongong Lecturer - APM College of Business and Communication Manager External Relations - University of Western Sydney Freelance journalist - The Australian, ABC, Southern Cross Television, Prime Television News Director - WIN Television, Western NSW Journalist/producer/presenter - WIN Television, Wollongong Journalist/producer - Radio 2CH INTERESTS: Netball umpiring, theatre, travel