I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching about editorial integrity lately. I came from a background in Broadcast Journalism, but I never quite “got it” until I became the person responsible for generating editorial for an entire magazine. Now, I get it.
Before my days of publishing, I handled all the marketing for a spa. Public Relations and any type of editorial coverage was numero uno on the list. It is free afterall. Strike that. I shouldn’t say free. Because free means the subject matter in question was originally associated with a price and that’s not the case when it comes to articles, tv spots, radio interviews, etc. You can’t pay for PR people and you really shouldn’t try. It’s in bad form.
Public Relations is by definition the practice of managing communication between an organization and its public. Ways you can manage that communication is internally through emails, newsletters, and advertisements or externally through third-parties like the media.
Media coverage gives your business a whole new level of credibility because it’s someone outside of your organization, who is NOT being paid, who says “ya know, they have a good thing going” or “we tried these products and love them too!” That’s how pr/editorial is meant to work.
Journalist who live by the daily belief in editorial integrity cannot be bought. I once sent a gift certificate to the spa to a writer who we often worked with as a thank you and happy holidays gesture. That writer called to say thank you for the gift card but that she couldn’t accept it, so if I didn’t mind she was going to donate it to a charity auction. I was floored, but even more SO impressed with her restraint and desire to keep it clean. That’s journalism…. writing for the reason not the reward.
PR becomes politics when there is an exchange of cash, goods or services.
I own a magazine and my advertisers make my world go ’round. So being fair and balanced editorially speaking and taking care of the people who make my magazine possible is always a struggle. I don’t mind writing about my advertisers, but it’s because I know each of them personally and when we do write about them, it’s because I truly BELIEVE that they have a good story to tell. But advertising with any media, does not promise you coverage and assuming it’s included will leave you disappointed and your reputation a bit tarnished in the eyes of that editor/producer/writer.
So how do you get editorial coverage without bullying an advertising account executive for an article in exchange for an article or harassing an Editor?
Her advice is simple. It’s not about bullying, sending bulk emails, buying ads or offering services in exchange. It’s about relationship. Getting to know the media YOU want to be published in. Familiarizing yourself with their style, previous topics covered, sending them article ideas, photography samples, knowing and submitting in the format they prefer, and generally building relationships with the gatekeepers. It does NOT happen over night, but if you put real genuine effort into the relationship, you will get results.
If you’re on Twitter follow the hash tag #GetPublished to keep up with Lara’s updates. It’s extremely valuable advice you can use to get the most out of your public relations efforts in your full circle marketing plan.