Blowing one’s own horn—an option for PR in days of declining media opportunities

by | Mar 1, 2021 | Analysis, Public Relations

With a continuously growing number of media outlets cutting back on staff and even closing their doors, where do public relations and marketing folks go to pitch their brands? Do they have other options? A February 2021 media update by the Poynter Institute reported that more than 400 media outlets in the 50 states and Puerto Rico had either cut staff, reduced salaries, announced furloughs, temporarily closed, suspended operations, or closed permanently.

These numbers don’t even include national, multi-state and Washington, DC data which amounted to 70 more outlets including well-known ones outlets like CNN, ABC News, The Atlantic, Condé Nast, Maven Media Brands (Sports Illustrated), Meredith (People Magazine) and Entertainment Weekly, CBS, NPR, and Fox News, to name a few. Collectively, these 70 represent several hundred more affected stations and publications.

One option for brands is to launch their own media network

Doing so hands total control over content to the brand Yet, the decision on what and how much to report is left in the hands of other media when they receive a press release. By applying the right SEO, consumers searching for information will be led to the brand.

Software company Nutanix did just that in May 2019 and launched its own weekly publication called The Forecast. Since then, it has gathered more than 1,200 subscribers as well as 400,000 unique visitors and 600,000 page views. Its sales force was happy because Nutanix also optimized for leads by retargeting publication visitors. This pioneering success helped Nutanix standout in the 2020 Content Marketing Awards.

The firm was a finalist in three categories – Best Overall Editorial – Digital, Content Marketing Launch of the Year, and B2B Branded Content Campaign of the Year. Here are some takeaways:

Identify and know the brand’s audience

Nutanix identified its core as IT influencers, people establishing a career in IT, tech decision makers, and its own investors. As of January 2021, more than 450,000 of their Tech Barometer Apple podcasts had been downloaded. Between January 2020 and January 2021, organic search traffic rose from 8% to 21%. Link referrals, social and their newsletter rose 18% as of January 2021,

Recognizing and understanding what’s important to the brand’s target audience doesn’t change when publishing the brand’s own publication or otherwise reaching out to them

Nutanix’s leaders knew that informing their readers and helping them overcome fears about the impact that cloud computing could have on business, industries, and their own lives would drive their editorial strategy. Subsequent publications focused on helping readers understand why those technologies existed and how they could help build a better future.

Another thing that made it easier is that Nutanix’s leaders have helped connect The Forecast’s editor with not just their internal experts, but the external ones too

Opening those doors provided the publication with connections to experts who are also willing to share their expertise with readers, further increasing the publication’s credibility.

If there’s a silver lining to all of this, it’s that social media has also provided numerous opportunities for brands to gain exposure. Targeting and navigating the right ones is yet another challenge. But it doesn’t have to boil down to choosing self-publication over social media. Jointly, they would probably do even better.

Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian founded 5WPR, a leading PR agency..