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«Return to Blog List Blending Traditional and “New” Media: Doing it Right Makes All the Difference

This is a guest post by Bonnie Harris, the founder of Wax Marketing, Inc. She has over 20 years experience promoting businesses and products of all kinds. Read her blog or follow her on Twitter for more ideas!

It’s easy to find articles and blog postings about the “new” PR—and how traditional media is dead. At the same time, everyone still wants a hit on the Today Show, even if it’s that dreadful fourth hour. National, traditional media reaches millions of potential customers at one time. Social media can reach that same number of customers over time, one at a time. The trick is not to throw away one medium in favor of another—the key is to find the right mix for your product or service that will serve up the highest number of targeted customer impressions consistently over time.

My greatest success comes when I find the right combination of messaging channels to achieve the greatest amount of promotion possible for my clients. Based on my experience across a pretty broad range of industries and products, the BEST results come from blending traditional media with social media and/or online PR. It’s not so easy to do! To give you a headstart, here’s my process for creating the right recipe for integrating your PR activities between traditional and newer media.

  • Build a list of all the different places your customers get information. If your demographic is pretty small—maybe you’re targeting young men between the ages of 18 to 22—this is easy. But most of us want to reach a wider range of consumers—some may still read the print paper in their hometown, others might have sophisticated RSS feeds that bring their daily news to their Google homepage. Baby boomers are notoriously all over the board in terms of what they read. I recently did a pitch for a client that had print newspaper stories running at the same time as postings on their Facebook page. Note: if you don’t know where your customers get their information, stop. Go back and further define your target demographics so that you can figure it out.
  • Take a look at the list and decide what’s realistic. For example, if you own a services firm, it might be really tough to get on television as they need really strong visuals. If you’re an author promoting your first novel, it might be nearly impossible to get a book review in the New York Times. Choose media that’s easier to get initially so your short-term results are good. But stay persistent and go for the big ones too because like winning the lottery, those national hits pay off in spades. One non-profit client of mine just taped a CNN national news package. Although the producers had never heard of them a year ago, consistent pitching plus keeping the producers apprised of their work via Twitter (love those @ replies!!) finally got us a huge hit.
  • Make sure your list has a good mix of different types of media and includes both traditional and new. I would include at least one broadcast channel—public radio for example if you’re a non-profit, maybe commercial radio if you’ve got a great hook for your book. Don’t throw all your eggs in one basket—like social media—just because it’s the cheapest and you can do it at night after the kids go to bed. TV producers look online to find ideas for sources. Bloggers pick up story ideas from their local morning newscast. Different kinds of media feed each other The more you show up in multiple channels, the better your chances are for getting strong, possibly national, placements down the line.
  • Figure out the story for each channel. If you’re going to do a strong online pitch, know what bloggers want and make your pitch short and snappy. If you want to go for broke and pitch national news, understand how to pitch that medium with a well defined segment outline. Each media requires a different approach—you can’t use the same press release for everything.
  • Keep pitching your channels consistently and simultaneously. It will work in the long run, as long as you keep your eye on the prize and stay patient.

Dan Buettner’s first book, The Blue Zones, is an excellent example of this. Dan’s name was fairly known, but for other work involving his career as a world explorer. We were determined to find the right mix of traditional broadcast and online impressions to put the book on the New York Times bestseller list. Guess what—through national hits like Good Morning America, favorable reviews from top Amazon reviewers and sites like About.com, regional radio (Dan did over 100 interviews on commercial radio) and one very lucky AP story, the team led by the brilliant publicist Laura Reynolds, myself, Dan’s staff and National Geographic, did it. Not only for the hardback, but for the paperback also one year later.

We don’t all have the luxury of a major publisher’s promotional budget. But we can remember that by including ALL the potential media in our plan, the synergy between them can often make the difference between failure and success.

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