Ask most operators today how they can build their business and they are likely to mention direct mail and advertising. And while these are both useful and important elements in a comprehensive marketing program, they miss one of the most valuable — and cost effective — tools available to anyone: media relations.
By simply investing some time researching media that reaches your potential customers and working to educate the reporters and editors about you and your business, you can benefit from media coverage that introduces your company to countless potential new customers, all for free. And once you understand how media relations works, you can make it work for you.
For many, the arena of media relations is somewhat murky, but in the end, it’s a very simple process that can deliver powerful results in terms of educating potential customers about your services or products in a uniquely credible way.
NEW PRODUCTS ARE NEWSWORTHY
For example, imagine you are an OCS operator, and you’ve just added a new line of antioxidant infused teas. With just a few simple steps, you could generate media coverage in a variety of outlets that showcases your company and announces the new line of teas.
Then imagine the value of that article should a decision maker who is unhappy with his or her existing coffee service provider read the article and call you to find out more about the new offerings and your company in general.
A successful media relations campaign is easy and inexpensive, but can deliver powerful results. It’s a valuable investment of time considering that on any given day one television program alone will reach tens of thousands of consumers who will all hear your message.
Similarly, one newspaper may be read by hundreds of thousands of subscribers who all may think differently about their vending or coffee service providers if they see or hear news from your company.
Step one: create a media list
To launch your own media relations campaign, the first step is to create a media list, and the easiest way to begin is by thinking about your company’s sales prospect list. The idea is to first think of different traits characterizing your potential customers, and second, to identify media outlets that will reach those potential accounts.
Specifically, when your sales department is identifying prospects, what categories do they consider? Are they most interested in specific industries, such as hospitals, elderly care facilities or even health care in general?
Or is the location of a business one of the most important factors? When qualifying new prospects, are your sales people interested in the title of a decision maker, such as Human Resource Director?
EVERY INDUSTRY HAS TRADE PRESS
This can be important, because just as we in the vending, OCS and foodservice industries rely on publications such as this one for information about our industry, virtually every other industry has similar publications targeted to that particular topic.
So, if your company is interested in acquiring new hospital accounts, for example, you would want to be sure to consider publications that report on hospitals, and possibly even health care in general.
Consider locations, too. Is there a specific area of town where the business population better matches your target client list? If so, you’ll want to make sure that all the media outlets that cover that particular geographic area are included.
Simple Google searches can help you identify media outlets both in your home town and those that report on specific industries or topics that you might want to consider, although media lists or databases with more detailed information can be purchased as well.
IDENTIFY YOUR KEY CONTACTS
Once you have thought through where your target customers are likely to see or hear your message, the next step is to create a list of reporters at those media outlets.
As you probably know, different reporters cover stories from a different angle, depending on their role in the media outlet.