How long does it take to get a media placement?
It’s the burning question every new client asks: when can I expect my first media placement? The honest answer is … it may be a while.
One of the most important things to understand about media relations is that it’s a long-term investment. It’s not something you can switch on and off quickly and expect significant results. Just look at the name itself – media relations. A media relations strategy is centered on creating and maintaining relationships with outlets relevant to your brand, and as we all know, the best relationships take time to build … but that’s why they’re so valuable.
Securing earned media coverage (free editorial coverage in an outlet) is one of the most impactful ways to promote your brand or services. It serves as an unbiased, third-party endorsement from a source your audience trusts, making it a great way to reach and build your customer base.
While there’s no guaranteed timeline for expecting results, there are a few key factors that affect how quickly you realistically can expect to garner coverage:
At the end of the day, if the story you’re pitching isn’t news, you’re not getting placements. What makes something newsworthy? It’s new, timely or part of a trend. A product you launched three years ago isn’t news … unless you’ve reinvented it in some meaningful way.
When you pitch a story plays a huge role in results. Make sure you understand the lead time of the outlet you’re trying to pitch. A short lead outlet, like a newspaper or website, can turn stories around quickly. Print magazines often work 4 to 6 months ahead. If you’re pitching spring cleaning products to Better Homes and Gardens in May, you’re way too late.
Timeliness plays a role, too. If you’re trying to get coverage of an event that is coming up next week, you might get local stories quickly. If you’re pitching a new product that could be featured in a magazine any time this year, it may take longer to see results. Also, be aware of what’s dominating the current news cycle. If you’re pitching an evergreen story in the midst of national breaking news, you’re unlikely to see results – instead, wait until there’s less competition for attention.
Target Media Outlets
Sure, everyone wants to be in high-profile outlets like The New York Times and The Today Show, but you’re facing intense competition to get a placement in these types of media. Top tier journalists receive thousands of pitches a day, so you’ll really have to be unique (or lucky) to stand out. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but you should be realistic regarding how long it might take to cut through the clutter.
The good news is that bigger outlets aren’t always better. Focus on securing placements in media outlets most likely to drive results for your brand. If you’re targeting female millennials, for instance, you may be better served by going after outlets like Refinery29 and PureWow that cater to your specific audience than trying to get in USA Today.
The moral of the story is that media relations are extremely worthwhile if you have the patience and dedication to do it right. If you’re more interested in guaranteed, quick-turn results, paid strategies, like advertising or sponsored editorial content, may suit you better than an earned media relations approach. A great PR partner will help you determine what makes the most sense for you.
And remember, good things come to those who wait … and know how to craft a compelling pitch!