5 Ways to Leverage Media Coverage
Leveraging media coverage is the key to maximizing PR outcomes for hyper-growth brands and emerging industries.
This post originally appeared in Authority Magazine
Welcome to another installment of our PR Strategy Series, where you can learn directly from top industry experts on how you can leverage media attention to grow your business.
I’m your host, Kage Spatz — here to help entrepreneurs, coaches, and service providers save more time, build more trust, and serve more customers. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Tara Coomans.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I did a lot of different marketing and PR roles before I started this agency, and I think that’s what makes my strategies and perspectives so valuable; I really do see things in a 360 degree way. When I was 26 years old, I started my first agency, it was an event marketing agency, from there I went into publishing and co-owned a few magazines, and then after working in sponsorship promotions for brand and nonprofit partnerships, I started my own communication and PR agency. My background really allowed me to work with a broad range of clients and appreciate the benefits of integrating marketing and PR levers.
When I first started this agency, social media was just taking off and we specialized in guiding companies, brands, government agencies, and nonprofits in integrating social media into their overall communication, so social media is really integral to Avaans’ PR roots as is integration with other marketing initiatives. Today, Avaans Media excels at integrated communication strategies with a special emphasis on earned media.
In your opinion, what separates your agency from others in the space?
I’ll share with you what we hear from our clients who have had PR firms before. They tell us we stand out as effective, strategic across channels, and able to move fast.
We really pride ourselves on our earned media success, we get multiple hits per month on an ongoing basis. We know how to get your company, your executive, your brand, in the press — and we know what to do with it once it’s there. We’re extremely proactive and we work shoulder to shoulder with our clients.
Our team is another differentiator. Our team is experienced and extremely effective and we have very little turnover. I’m also personally engaged with all our clients because we know brand consistency is the name of the game with PR. And our team really taps into their own emotional intelligence to provide outstanding strategy and positioning because we’re hyper-aware of the cultural and media mindset.
We also move incredibly fast, we pick up complicated technologies, business changes, cultural changes, or communication challenges and can very quickly determine the best course of action.
Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success up to this point?
- Empathy-As an agency CEO, empathy is vital. I feel it makes us a better collaborator with our clients, and it’s really what allows me to keep a pulse on changing cultural conditions. I also think it’s why our team is so effective, because I truly hear and see what they’re experiencing and I work very hard to integrate their feedback. Empathy has allowed me to steer clients clear of potential pitfalls, and it’s allowed me to build a really talented team. Although empathy is something I’m proud of, we all have blind spots. Several years back, I usually addressed an email to an all-female team with “Hi Ladies,”. One of my team members told me that made her extremely uncomfortable and that she felt there was no reason to call out anyone’s gender at the top of an email. To be clear, this wasn’t a pronoun issue, but it did make me consider my own perspectives. You see, I’ve made a big point of hiring & supporting women in my agency, so I was proud when we had an all-female team. But her perspective brought something else to light: the way we address teams, especially those of us in leadership roles, can be perceived as one of elevation or diminishment, depending on the person’s own experiences. We now call our internal team the “A-Team,” and it seems to work better for us.
- Know When To Say No — Another thing I’ve learned over the years is the type of client we work best with. We work really well with people who are invested in success and will be part of our village to raise a brand. We work best with clients who want actually to move the needle; that’s why we excel in fast-growing industries and with ambitious brands. Knowing when to say no has been pivotal to our growth. Our team is excellent and professional, but nothing takes the winds out of someone’s sails faster than knowing their advice, work, and recommendations are falling on completely deaf ears. It leads to less than desirable results and it weighs down my team too. I can’t have that, because it affects everything. I’ve gotten really good at identifying clients who are a good fit for us, as a result our work is outstanding, our team members are happy, and our day-to-day existence, while it can be stressful, is satisfying because we know we’re making a difference. I will say, this is a constant battle. I’ve developed an internal plan on managing these situations so I have guidance for myself and the team the next time we have a less than ideal client fit.
- Resilience-Resilience is probably my superpower. As an entrepreneur, I’ve been through 3 major national crises (9/11, 2008, and the COVID pandemic). Not only have I survived them, but our clients also. I’ve developed plans and strategies for hyper-growth within and in the aftermath of these situations. I’m incredibly proud of that. That doesn’t mean I’ve never experienced failure, because like anyone, I’ve failed, but, I always look for the lesson learned and then move on.
What 3 media strategies are typically most effective in generating more business for a national brand?
National brands should be thinking about PR all the time. PR should have a seat at the table for any national or nationally ambitious brand. From partnerships to product development to 360 campaigns and internal initiatives, to leveraging media coverage, there are so many great ways for national brands to stand out with PR insights. And national brands need to be more and more focused on authenticity and the importance of internal communications too.
- INTEGRATE — Integrating programs together so they activate one another is a great example. We worked with a client a few years back to bring PR into their events programs. For one of their major events they sponsored the press box, although this was a paid sponsorship, it was a true media relations move, particularly for their target audience. This elevated the brand’s exposure to the press in a positive way since the press box was a refuge and always had food, phone chargers, and private space for interviews. The Avaans team was onsite to ensure the press opportunities flowed and in the end, the ROI was truly remarkable –and sustained itself well past the actual event. It was a great activation of PR and paid sponsorship.
- OWN YOUR CONTENT, OWN YOUR REPUTATION — Owned content is another fantastic PR opportunity. National brands really need to make sure their PR and SEO teams are working together and that owned content bridges those two worlds. This includes any kind of owned content from websites to videos. A few years ago, we did a Clio-nominated video for a CPG client and we scoured the script to make sure that the content was not only a beautiful example of storytelling but also engaged keywords that were aligned with the brand. The video was a masterpiece of storytelling and branding, but I’m also really proud of the behind-the-scenes work that ensures the video would attract traffic to the website because of the way it was scripted.
- PR DURING PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT — I think something else important for national brands, is to consider PR during product development. It’s such a great opportunity to really consider how the product will stand out. PR can also help product development with insights into customer and culture trends and state of mind. There are PR opportunities during the design and testing phase that are really exciting. Something as simple as color choices on a consumer product: does the color pop off a page? Something like what the product will be named, many times a PR person can provide insights into things like that.
We’ve worked with clients to develop press-worthy products and we’ve used PR to help develop the product itself. We worked with a client years ago who was beta testing a platform aimed at parents. We developed a community of parents in social media to provide feedback and insight. We were engaging this community in a sustained way — not just in a focus group setting.
In the end, some of the feedback ended up radically improving the product and especially the messaging. Most exciting for the brand was the number of these parents who were defacto influencers during launch, they were the company’s earliest brand ambassadors and really made a huge impact at launch.
Would your PR strategy change much if a client is selling a physical product or has a service-based solution? B2C versus B2B? If so, please share an example or two that might demonstrate any differences.
Sure, there are big differences, including different expectations from the target audience. For example, a B2C brand might want to earn press in national consumer lifestyle outlets, but for B2B, it might be more relevant to focus on industry outlets. With consumer PR, having big reach numbers is important, but for a B2B outlet, it’s about aligning with quality over quantity. Also, how you leverage your media coverage will be different.
We have a technology client with a retail B2C product line and a B2B product line. One of the benefits for the brand is our B2B and B2C efforts are aligned, even though our PR strategies were different for each. The B2C side was heavy on earned media coverage, the B2B side was heavier on owned content, data, and trust-building within the industry and potential customers, which meant aligning with industry-specific opportunities.
There was is an added benefit for the B2B product line though: B2C PR added trust and awareness for the brand overall. When we secured a Today Show review of one of the B2C products, the B2B team used that an opportunity to start or re-engage conversations they were having, and the B2B side was able to piggyback off the trust of one of America’s most trusted morning shows.
For Direct to Consumer (DTC) products, it’s important to remember the media landscape is changing and lots of publications are radically changing the way they do product reviews.
For one, Google is changing the way they view these types are articles, so savvy publishers are looking to dig a little deeper into the products and the reviews, so be prepared with a thorough FAQ that’s specific to press when you send product samples.
Along these same lines, I highly recommend an affiliate program, ad revenues continue to decline and major publishers are prioritizing products that offer affiliate links. When your brand gets a review, be sure to share the article with the affiliate link.
If a business is already investing monthly in PR, what other marketing strategies would you recommend they invest in that best compliments that work to bring in the most amount of business?
This really depends on what else they’re doing and who their audience is. Broadly, I would say take a deep look at your owned media for enhanced trust and reinforcing your brand; see what’s working and integrate those insights into leveraging your media coverage.
Hypergrowth companies sometimes underestimate the benefit of these two strategic objectives in PR and owned media’s role in these objectives.
If someone has already been covered in the media, what are the best next steps after that? What are your “5 Ways To Leverage that Media Coverage To Dramatically Grow Your Business”?
- CELEBRATE WINS — Make sure your employees know about your press coverage, and celebrate it internally. CEOs can use it as an opportunity to remind the company that you’re a team and celebrate your efforts. You don’t need to ask your employees to share the press, if you’re creating a great culture, they’ll do that already. But it’s important to use press coverage as an opportunity to congratulate your internal team on a job well done and to reinforce your brand’s growing influence. Share your press with customers and clients too. Everyone likes to know that they’ve made the right choice and earned media reinforces that choice. It’s also an awesome opportunity for customers and clients to share it with someone else and say “this is the product/service I was telling you about.” Don’t be shy about empowering your existing clients with good news worth sharing. Make sure you’re pitch decks are updated regularly with your top 3 pieces of content. Your earned media and press is useful for biz development or capital raises. If you’re unsure which to select, as your PR firm, they’ll talk it through with you and point out what’s most relevant for your objectives.
- REPURPOSE YOUR EARNED COVERAGE — One of the beauties of earned media is it has a long lifespan. Be sure you’re highlighting your press coverage in ads and on your website. This is appreciated by the outlet and also increases the social proof to new audiences. While we’re at it, celebrate your earned media with your email list too. Resurface earned media when it’s relevant or right in social, in email, and in newsletters.
- USE YOUR PR FOR INDUSTRY ADVANTAGE — When you receive positive press think about doors it can open for you. Great brands always take PR seriously, this is especially true for companies using technologies like AI or drones, or other emerging industries or hyper-growth companies like fintech, blockchain, or cannabis. For emerging industries, it’s really important to focus heavily on trust-building initiatives. Emerging industries need to keep in mind that even people who aren’t their customers are early stakeholders in things like regulation. If you’re in an industry that’s likely to be or already is highly regulated, and you’ve received a business profile in a great publication, that’s a great opportunity for the CEO to introduce themselves to local political figures and representatives and start a dialogue about the industry or the business.
One more before we go: If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I’d love for us to celebrate and reward kindness more. There are millions of small acts of kindness daily, everything from holding open a door for a stranger to writing letters of recommendations.
If I could do anything it would be develop a true kindness economy. I envision tracking kindnesses in a way that people could see the ripple effects of their kindness.
Thank you for sharing your story and so many valuable insights with us today!