The Evolution of the Placement: Taking “Crawl, Walk, Run” Up a Few Notches

toddlers running

I coined a phrase many years ago, describing a strategy for building a successful media relations campaign. Wasn’t relevant for every situation, but I thought it sound, and a good way of managing expectations.

The idea was “Crawl. Walk. Run.” Pretty self-explanatory and an easy way of illustrating the process.

Crawling would take place when you secured a trade placement. Calling a trade placement crawling was not intended to diminish the placement. Trade media and analysts covering a particular industry can be critical in the foundation of coverage.

Walking would occur when you took that trade placement to an outlet like a beat reporter at a daily newspaper. The thinking was, the beat reporter would be familiar with the trade outlet and your pitch would hold more credence. A couple of daily hits and well, you are now walking.

We would be running when national media – – broadcast, print, magazine, etc. – – would do a story based, in part, on those daily newspaper placements.

While I still believe the strategy to still hold true, new times and technologies have added opportunities as has a more sophisticated way at looking at your real audience.

Today, the savvy public relations professional doesn’t and shouldn’t solely rely on the media to reach his/her audience. Blogging, creating relevant videos, posting appropriate content socially, helps create a direct line to the people you want to reach. In most instances, less total people – initially – than a huge media placement, but – if done correctly – just as much impact because you are hitting the right people.

What you lose in third-party credibility, you gain in controlling the messages and interacting directly with your consumers. That said, creating content is not as simple as talking about your latest and greatest product or service.

Sure, individuals who follow your company, product, service, etc. do want to receive some information/coupons/offers, etc. specific to your company, but they want more. It is about providing relevant, compelling content that will keep your real audience interested and coming back for more.

For example, the smarter/better retail companies are probably blogging about their given expertise and posting it on Facebook (along with coupons, etc.). To be clear, the content is not a commercial. You are telling an interesting story without bombarding your real audience with your company name, product, service.

The great thing for PR folks is, that content (and it could be a blog, video, etc.) can and should be used as possible pitches for media. Producers, reporters get a good idea of what the story could be and if your content spurs comments, more the better.

More and more, the media are covering what is happening socially. During a talk at Vanderbilt, a student asks Billy Joel if he can play New York State of Mind on the piano. Many YouTube views later, the student ends up talking on TODAY and appearing on other media outlets. As PR professionals we should be doing the same thing – – asking Billy Joel if you can play piano for him… No, not that, but we should be building relevant content and using that content as a tool for pitching the media.

One of our responsibilities is establishing positive relationships between our client and their real audience. Building great content that the real audience can use directly and the media can use to create new content to a broader (if done correctly) real audience comes down to a Matter of Trust (see what I did there, used another Billy Joel song to reinforce my point, I know a bit cheesy, but what can I tell you, I’m a fan).

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