How to leverage media

How to leverage media

Last week, at the Social Change Institute at Hollyhock, I was on a panel with David Roberts of Grist and Jenny Uechi, of the Vancouver Observer, on how to leverage media for your business, non profit or charity.

Here's a brief summary of my talk.

Media has undergone remarkable changes in the last decade and the press release has become obsolete. 

You can waste time and money paying pr firms to send out press releases about your latest cool thing.

But here are three things you can do to leverage media:

  • Develop a strong relationship with one reporter (blogger, or editor) who genuinely cares about the issue your organization works on.
  • Give that reporter the scoop on your news.
  • Be a valuable source for a reporter.

Consider this about the press releases your organization sends out: if your press release isn't conveying urgent news, it's a request for free advertising.

I get about 25 press releases in my inbox a day and, as David Roberts said, "they annoy me".  Delete, delete, delete. 

It used to be different. The press release ruled. But things have changed.

The media's struggling mightily to survive.

This is why more and more media companies have (been forced to create) a publication stream called  "branded content," which used to be called "advertorial."

In this genre, transparency rules.

Vancouver Observer's branded content is "authored" by "sponsored content".

A disclaimer explains that sponsored content refers to stories the site has been hired to produce.

Once a great story is published and marked clearly for what it is, the Vancouver Observer social media team promotes branded content widely to  23,000 plus @VanObserver twitter followers and nearly 9,000 Facebook friends. They pump your stuff on Google+, too.

Sometimes branded content hits it big and reaches thousands of readers through Google, Yahoo and Bing.

This results in higher Search Engine Optimization for an organization and increases the likelihood that its brand will pop up higher on Google when a user searches a related product or service.

In the last year, VO has been commissioned to write in-depth stories for a number of fantastic charities, resorts, and local businesses and promoted events under the byline "sponsored content." Today, we published the first of a series of articles highlighting the wonderful Armoury District in Vancouver.  Featured today: Metropolitan Home, a vintage furniture store with a fabulous story to tell.

This growing stream of revenue has been essential to supporting reporting and in-depth investigations on the Vancouver Observer.  And  I've loved watching VO's team brainstorming to come up with smart strategies on how to help other organizations thrive.

It's a win-win.

To find out more about how to leverage media, email [email protected]


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