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What is Media Coverage?

This morning’s always-excellent Bad Pitch blog led me to a story on PR Newser about a current campaign by Pine Bros. The mission: score Tier 1 media coverage. The catch? They’re offering significant cash “rewards” to any PR person who lands them a story in media ranging from national morning shows to news dailies. Note to Stuart Elliott – please publish the list of hopefuls who actually call you at The New York Times (one of Pine Bros.’ most coveted targets) to pitch this campaign.

A second “what were they thinking” moment followed while I was catching up on my PR Week reading. The October issue tells the tale of Samsung, which invited two Indian tech bloggers to a trade show in Berlin, only to abandon them when they refused to don branded wear and demo products to other members of the media at the event. Apparently Nokia came to the rescue and bought the airline tickets home.

So – what exactly is the definition of “media coverage” these days? As a PR agency, we include both paid and earned media in campaign strategy, but anything with a price attached is most definitely not positioned as media coverage – ever.  That includes:

  1. Advertorials.  It looks like editorial but the space it occupies was purchased. Usually, it’s identified as an advertorial or even advertising. Yes, we can write it, produce it and buy the space for it. No, it’s not media coverage.
  2. Value-adds. These days most all media buys get added value elements. Sometimes that element is an editorial mention or other integrated content. While this type of content may look like real editorial to a reader or viewer, it was bought and paid for. In our book, it’s not media coverage.
  3. Media partnerships. Editors at lifestyle and consumer media in particular are under a lot of pressure from management to play ball with the ad guys these days. While that line was seldom crossed back in the day, it’s fairly common now to have editors participate in sponsored content, such as video series. Effective? Yes.  Is it coverage? No, of course not.
  4. Paid blogger content. We work with plenty of bloggers around the country who will review or otherwise cover a product or topic that interests them – and they’ll disclose whether they accepted a freebie (such as accepting a press car or travel to an event) in that process.  Any resulting coverage is media coverage. Any bloggers who request a “placement fee” or other compensation moves into the advertorial category. Ergo, it’s not media coverage.

While the media landscape has changed big-time, the definition of media coverage (at least in the Brandware PR Playbook) has not. Today, as it ever was, getting a real journalist interested means coming up with a unique story idea, pitching it succinctly and being prepared with relevant data, proof points and visual assets. Note the absence of dollar bills in that definition.

Photo courtesy of aresauburn™.

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One Comment

  1. Margaret ParkerOctober 26, 2012 at 4:34 amReply

    I agree on your definition of media coverage. Earning coverage means good writing, recognizing a newsworthy story and having good relationships with the news media. BUT, the PR world today includes “creating awareness” — sometimes those advertorials or PSAs or announcements or info blog posts or contests or links to social causes support the mission to create awareness, whether it’s originated from a non-profit or for-profit source.

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