It’s quite possible that chief marketing officers (CMOs) have had to answer the following question countless times; “do we need a media relations program?”
Spoiler alert… the answer is yes!
In addition to creating thought leadership and external awareness, a media relations strategy helps feed top of the funnel marketing initiatives. As well, a robust media relations program provides the sales team with additional ammunition throughout the sales cycle.
However, CMOs and heads of marketing hold the secret ingredient to make a media relations program succeed – driving the relationship.
A symbiotic relationship
During my time as an agency-side PR professional, the best agency-client relationships and most successful media programs I’ve seen have had a CMO at the wheel.
CMOs provide a holistic awareness of what is going on throughout their organization and understand the type of information that is most helpful for their customers and prospects. As such, CMOs can serve as the ideal conduit for information to flow between internal and external audiences.
Developing a strong media relations program requires knowing how your company serves customer needs and how industry trends affect the market. There’s no better person to lead that than the CMO.
Making the connection
As you position your company for media interviews, keep in mind that the CMO can serve as a primary spokesperson for the reasons discussed above. In the past, some of my clients have flagged concerns about having the CMO take interviews.
However, given their leadership over corporate and product messaging as well as customer needs, CMOs have proven themselves to consistently offer unique and valuable data and context during media interviews.
During every media interview, CMOs should look to create a personal relationship with each media contact. It’s no secret that reporters have to move at the speed of light to cover breaking news. They need a portfolio of sources they can tap to gather a balanced perspective of what the breaking news means for a particular community.
As CMOs connect with new media contacts this is a time to share the particular topics they can offer expertise on and available to discuss as news evolves.
After the interview, we often recommend that the CMO connect with the reporter. The best way is on social media, discussing recent stories, current industry trends or even funny discussions taking place in the Twittersphere. Just as CMOs do with customers, it’s about building a relationship with the media to stay top of mind.
A CMO’s media relations strategy during COVID-19
From a media relations perspective, today’s environment demands increased responsibility in the type of information we share externally.
CMOs need to take the personal media connections they’ve made and analyze how their company can further serve reporters’ needs in an efficient and responsible manner.
It’s about asking what kind of information is needed and useful for the reporter, as well as for their customer base. As well, CMOs also have the responsibility to work with their communications team and PR agency not only to align timing for company announcements with other marketing campaigns but to ensure the media and public will be receptive to the forthcoming announcement.
It’s critical to have all stakeholders and experts on hand to evaluate what is appropriate to announce and what should be put on temporary hold in the current climate.
We all hold a responsibility to limit misinformation and provide helpful commentary. CMOs across organizations can serve as guardians, conveying information that is helpful and informational in a time of crisis.
Strengthening the CMO-driven media relations program
As CMOs continue to get more comfortable with their media relations programs they can succeed by serving as conduits of information, fostering a personal relationship with media contacts and serving as guardians against the spread of misinformation.
Marketing and media relations go hand-in-hand, creating new paths of growth for a company and a powerful asset for brand building. The secret ingredient to making these programs work together lies with the CMO.