Media campaigns are a rocket, not a sniper shot

August 12, 2022

Last year, one of our clients hired us to build a media campaign rocket. They organized the press conference and speakers; we helped them find a location, reach out to the press, and coordinate talking points.

Everything was ready to go. And then the bill they were fighting died in committee.

Suddenly, nobody cared what they had to say. It was like the rocket never left Cape Canaveral.

On the surface, it was a policy win for the client…and a media failure. But we saw it differently. Media campaigns aren’t a sniper shot, where you only have one opportunity to put your message in front of target audiences. It’s more like trying to get a satellite into space, where you:

  1. Build the rocket.
  2. Get it off the ground.
  3. Put it into orbit.
  4. Continuously beam your message back to Earth.

Here are the three steps to get it done.

From liftoff to orbit

Media campaigns get off the ground first by building a great plan. It starts with having something important and relevant for the press to cover. A few good examples are:

  • Announcing a new product release, book, or office location
  • Acquiring another company
  • Bringing in a major partner or investor

Once you’ve built a tailored press strategy, your media campaign’s “lift-off” should be big, loud, and flashy to get the right attention. This might include a press conference, press releases, and two or three interviews and op-eds.

Climbing through the atmosphere transitions your initial launch into a disciplined narrative which engages the target audiences you want following your trajectory. Depending on a number of factors like the size of your investment, the quality of your campaign strategy, and how well the strategy is executed, it will take three to 12 months to build enough trust to break through the atmosphere.

Hitting orbit is the benchmark of a successful mission. This is when your rocket has put the satellite in space, beaming your message 24/7. The media looks forward to covering your news, and uses your message to drive your narrative. At times, they may pro-actively seek your knowledge and expertise in their coverage, and request commentary when big things are happening.

Orbit also means that press is truly bringing people into your sales funnel. Your marketing is seeing better results, you’re getting better SEO and more quality website visits, and you’re being invited to present in front of key target audiences.

Breaking orbit takes patience and a long-term perspective

A lot of media launches were delayed when Russia invaded Ukraine. Virtually nothing else got in the press for weeks. Just like our client’s bill dying in committee, however, no communications team could have predicted that outcome.

Your amazing rocket may not launch on time, or it may sputter at first due to the news cycle. That’s a problem when you need to move fast or when you’ve invested a lot of resources into a singular event.

That’s why we encourage a year-long perspective on media campaigns. Short-term failures and successes can create wide emotional swings that may have little relevance to a campaign’s overall progress. A long-term view helps maintain a steady glidepath until your campaign is in orbit, transmitting the information to the right people all the time.

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