Media coverage is high praise. No other promotional channel is so favorably regarded. When people see that you got a story in the news, they shower you with back slaps and congratulations. Publicity is so powerful, yet so underused. Go figure.
Why is getting media coverage considered such an accomplishment? The answer can be found in the promotions you control. You say exactly what you want in your ads, on your website, in your brochures … Nothing wrong with that. Right? Well, maybe.
Here’s the problem: Companies are echo chambers. People live and breathe the wonder of their products day in and day out. Especially owners, managers and marketers. And why shouldn’t they? After all, their products are fantastic. But repeated exposure to the same message can be like garlic: As long as everyone eats it, everything smells just fine.
So companies crank out syrupy benefit-rich sales messages believing their words are minty fresh. Unfortunately, what looks and sounds good in the echo chamber is suspicious to the public. The lack of checks and balances leaves prospective customers skeptical of ads and leery of salespeople.
A puffed-up self-image can lead to hubris. Hubris stems from extreme pride and arrogance. It’s creepy to witness. Have you ever attended a party or event and been stuck with a person who has been sheltered from honest feedback? They make your skin crawl.
Last week I heard a commercial for gold and silver. The CEO said you need to protect your “kidses” future. Kidses. I guess in his echo chamber, no one had told him “kidses” ain’t a word.
I’m not saying advertising and website copy sink to the level of hubris. But you won’t find ads that point out a product’s shortcomings. Ads, websites and brochures are expected to point out only the good.
Publicity about your product is different. It’s a message that comes from outside the echo chamber. That’s why people trust it and that’s why it can be so valuable to you. Audiences know it’s a privilege for a product to be favored with coverage. They also know the media is more than happy to point out a product’s shortcomings.
A couple years ago, Mike Danielson, the VP of our health and nutrition division, was sporting a new black bracelet. He told me it was an UP made by Jawbone. It measured body activity including sleep patterns. You sync it with an app on your iPhone and it collects the data.
Later I went to the Jawbone website. I found what I expected: a long list of features and benefits that stopped just short of curing cancer. Next I did an Internet search for news to read about it. The Huffington Post had a nice article by a reporter who had used the product. She covered the benefits listed on the product’s website but also mentioned some things she didn’t like. For instance, no Bluetooth. You have to physically plug the bracelet into the phone to download the information.
When I finished reading the story, I went back to the Jawbone website and bought one. Not because of the company-controlled web copy. Because of the article. It was honest. It told me the downside. It spoke to me me like I was an adult, and one smart enough to make my own decisions.
It’s one thing for a company to say nice things about its products. It’s another when someone else does. And here’s the kicker: The endorsement is even stronger if it happens to point out a few blemishes.
In a way, media coverage is like a friend’s recommendation on steroids. It’s kudos broadcast to the masses. Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” A business can live two months on a good article. That means you’ll need six a year in every market. We can help. Call Heather Champine at 952-697-5269. Heather heads our team of publicists and knows more about product publicity than anyone should.
Lonny Kocina. CEO and Founder
Media Relations Agency