The ultimate aim of public relations is a simple one: to get your message in front of your target audience. Once you know how to reach your target audience you can start building the vital foundations of trust and authority. And let’s face it, without these in place any business is going to struggle to get off the ground.
First things first, you need to identify your target audience. Once you’ve built up a picture of who it is you want to target, you can then turn to the question of how you’re going to reach them.
When it comes to using PR to reach your target audience, this is achieved through winning media coverage. In PR talk, we term this as winning earned media. This refers to any channel or medium of influence that has some form of editorial control. There is no direct cost with earned media, as you win media coverage by providing useful or relevant content.
This definition can sound a bit abstract, so here are some examples:
Marketing has a similar function to PR. But while PR uses earned media to reach a target audience, marketing uses paid media. The key difference between the two types of media is that with paid media you have to, well, pay for it. So these are things like newspaper adverts, Google Ads and sponsored Tweets.
To win earned media and reach your target audience, you need to approach the gatekeepers. These are the media influencers. Contrary to what many people think when they hear this term, this doesn’t just mean social media influencers. When it comes to PR, this simply means anyone who’s an opinion former or trendsetter, or who can amplify your message to an audience.
To be an opinion former or trendsetter, you need a following and a platform, as well as respectability and authoritativeness. In the pre-digital media era this was a pretty self contained list, such as journalists, columnists, industry experts, and tv and radio personalities.
In today’s super fragmented digital media world the list can be extensive, as everyone has access to a platform and can build up a following. The below infographic provides a breakdown of the different types of influencers that a PR strategy can target to win earned media.
As you can see, the list of influencers and the media channels they use is extensive. Journalists working for publications have always been an important means to win earned media. But nowadays you have to think more strategically. You have to target the influencers operating within the media channels that are most relevant to your target audience.
Going back to your target audience, you need to determine which media they consume. Work through this process one media channel at a time:
Once you have your list of media outlets, you then need to find the relevant influencers working for each. To do this, it’s a case of repeating the same process as above. For example, explore each of the online publications and see which journalists write stories that relate to the type of content or commentary that you can pitch to them.
The final step of the process is pitching to influencers. Pitching is a bit of an art form. The best pitches combine current events or topical stories, with unique and interesting insight; which help develop the narrative that the business is trying to build through earned media. This can sound a little bit daunting, but we have a step-by-step walkthrough on how to pitch to journalists and other influencers in our PR for Growth Playbook.
So there you have it. This is how you can reach your target audience through PR, by winning earned media.