At DCG, we’re trying to rock the boat a little when it comes to PR agencies and what they do for their clients. For a starter, that sweet little cash cow – the press release – that probably costs you anywhere between $400 and $1000 is not something we’re going to aggressively sell you, because largely they are a waste of time. We’re certainly not perfect, but selling a product or service that we know is next to useless, is unethical and we don’t roll that way.
We do roll via the PESO model. PESO was coined by Gini Dietrich back in 2014. It stands for Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned when referring to content creation. What it encourages is a more integrated approach to communications and content, which is infinitely better than running to the media with your non-story.
PESO also promotes a mantra I’ve stood by for many years: that every story has a home. And by home, I mean an audience. This approach slows things down a little, and gives us time to examine who really needs to know about this information. In some cases the media do need to be engaged, but 80% of the time they do not, and so we (everyone else) should really stop bugging them with nonsensical press releases.
It also promotes accountability. When you’re in charge of a company’s communications budget, you need to make sure that you’re spending it wisely. Frittering it away on press release and journalist spamming time isn’t great. But, by considering the audience and making sure that those people get that information, and then potentially doing something useful with it, well, for us at DCG, that’s when you become valuable to your clients.
Our clients at DCG hire us in the first place because we sell integrated communications rather than just being a media coverage PR firm. This means we’ll place a story where it gets the most bang for buck. It might not even be a story. We encouraged our client Snapper to engage with their end users when they rolled out their shiny new top up kiosks, with an easy competition. Just a media story relies on people happening upon your story when it goes up so they actually see it, and then how many of those would have felt compelled to go out and try the kiosks? Very few. In the end, the media were keen to talk about the kiosks anyway, and so it was a good result for Snapper. Our concept was about engaging with the user, the audience, in the best way possible.
The feedback we get from some businesses is that media coverage is still the golden child. They firmly believe that securing a story in the NZH or elsewhere is what will solve all their problems. It won’t. However, playing the long game, with some strategic thinking and focusing on the audience who you are really trying to gain the attention of, will do a better job.
So where else can your story go? Here’s some ideas.
- Your own website, promoted by social media, paid and organic.
- Someone else’s website as a guest post, promoted through their social channels, and your own.
- A company newsletter that by checking the open rates, gets opened and read by the people you want to share this story with.
- As a micro-post on any of your social channels
- As a video sent out via your newsletter
- To a local news site, such as What is IT Wellington (disclaimer, this is run by DCG)
Here’s a radical idea. Word of mouth. Tell someone who tells James, who is sure to mention to his boss that she should look into xyz because of abc.
You could also do this at a networking event. “What’s new in the dev world, Jane?” “Well Ed, have you heard of Code Club Aotearoa – they’re teaching the kids to code. You mentioned last week you were looking at options to sponsor, this would be great for you”
There’s no denying that coverage in mainstream media – or any media at all is pretty exciting. It’s exciting for us when we pitch a story and it runs, especially cover stories. But when you save your media destined stories for media, and your other news for the exact audience and channel it belongs in, the ROI becomes crystal clear, because you’ll have put your audience first.
Lou Draper is Managing Partner of Draper Cormack Group and a public relations veteran. Originally from Auckland, she is now living, working and breathing public relations, personal brand and content curation in Wellington City.