Leveraging the Content Drives Coverage Cycle
Despite the shift toward digital PR and marketing, earned media coverage is still the cornerstone of many organizations’ public relations programs. Far from replacing traditional PR, digital and social media are now playing a significant role amplifying the tried-and-true approach of pitching stories to journalists to “earn” coverage in third-party media outlets. In addition, with the continuous buzz around content marketing, or what we call “brand journalism,” companies aren’t just socializing media hits – they’re using the coverage to generate stories for corporate blogs, marketing materials and other channels.
If you can set up a successful media program that is effectively feeding your company’s content pipeline, you’re one step ahead. But what if your brand journalism strategy could in turn drive additional media coverage? It sounds like a lot of work but, in reality, if you’re developing insightful, well-written, journalistic-quality pieces (not just promotional ones) for your target audience, then media platforms reaching that same audience will also find the content useful.
As editorial staffs continue to shrink in today’s changing media landscape, many print and online outlets are hungry for contributed articles and guest commentary. It goes without saying they’re looking for journalistic-quality, non-promotional content. It can’t be a hard sell for your company and/or products and services. And, as with any content you’re creating to represent your brand, it must offer something of value to readers, who are more discerning than ever. Take a brand journalism approach, follow these guidelines, and a corporate blog post could just as easily appear as an article on an external website.
Let’s take a look at an example from Greenough client Sheridan Healthcare, the leading provider of healthcare management services, to see how the process works. For Sheridan, earned media coverage in healthcare trade magazines is an important way to reach physicians and hospital leaders working in specific service areas. Sheridan also maintains a robust corporate blog to share updates and thought leadership with both internal and external stakeholders. As you’ll see, our media and corporate brand journalism programs for Sheridan work hand-in-hand.
-Content Drives Coverage Cycles-
- Step 1: Secure the Coverage – Radiology Today, an industry trade for radiology professionals, publishes a feature story on how McLaren Central Michigan Hospital partnered with Sheridan Healthcare to enhance its workflow with distributed radiology services.
- Step 2: Promote the Story – To maximize the reach of the article, as part of our ongoing brand journalism program, we re-purposed the content into a short, online-friendly format for Sheridan’s corporate blog.
- Step 3: Let the Content Shine – Becker’s Hospital Review, one of the leading sources of industry news for hospital executives, picked up the story from Sheridan’s blog for the site’s Leadership & Management coverage: “McLaren Hospital's CEO discusses the value of Sheridan's distributed radiology services” (December 13, 2016).
The example above is not a one-off occurrence. In the same month, Becker’s Healthcare publications featured three additional Sheridan blogs:
- “Five medical practices that may soon be outdated” (December 6, 2016)
- “Five key strategies for driving change in the OR” (December 14, 2016)
- “Identify pain points first to effectively implement radiology process improvements” (December 19, 2016)
While media sites will occasionally pick up content from other parts of the web, as is the case with Becker’s and the Sheridan blog, it is also possible to proactively construct a content-drives-coverage cycle. Some smaller, niche publications accept recurring guest columns or regular contributions from industry leaders. Take the time to get to know the publication and what types of articles it runs to get a sense of whether your brand journalism could be a fit. If you can show your content is performing well on social media – that is, driving lots of likes, clicks and shares – then that will help entice an editor to consider your contributions.
So, the next time you’re asked to choose between prioritizing pitching efforts and content generation, remember that a single hit or blog post is just the start. Media and brand journalism may fall under two separate buckets on your company’s PR plan, but when done well they can work together – and amplify each other – seamlessly.