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.
Reaching your target market with Earned Media
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 of earned media:
- Getting a press release written up into an article in a newspaper
- Having your product professionally reviewed in a magazine or review website
- Making a guest appearance on a podcast
- Getting a piece of content picked up by a social media influencer
- Providing expert comment or opinion in a news article or guest submission
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.
How to find the Right Media Influencers
Before you can target the relevant influencers, you need to determine the communication and media habits of your target audience. Work through this process one media channel at a time:
- Publications: what newspaper, magazines, industry news and online news sources do they read?
- Blogs: what industry, product, business or special interest blogs do they consume?
- Social media: what type of social media do they follow, in terms of both platforms and content?
- Events: what events do they attend or have an interest in?
- Podcasts: what podcasts do they listen to?
Once you have your list of media outlets, you then need to target 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.
By carefully researching which influencer to target, you’ll significantly increase your chances to stand out from the crowd.
How to pitch influencers
The final step of the process is pitching to influencers. A successful pitch starts from creating relationships with the target influencers and making it personal. Those who think they can just craft a generic influencer pitch template and send it to everyone, think again.
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 influencers in our Pitching To Journalists Toolkit.
So there you have it. The best way to reach your target audience through PR is to win earned media. However, if the earned media wins are not relevant to your industry, they will be as pointless as selling shoes to a snake.
Before you can reach the spotlight in front of your target audience, you must find the relevant influencers and refine your pitching skills.