When Coverage Isn’t Coverage

Trust in Media

One of the most interesting things to come out of Edelman’s Asia-Pacific Stakeholder Study is the very high credibility of international mainstream media in Korea compared to local media. Of the stakeholders surveyed, only 10% thought local media was “Credible” to “Very credible” while 27% gave the same ranking to international mainstream media.

The reason for the credibility is in part because the high-level stakeholders that make up the subject base for the Study tend to be more international in their outlook (the average Korean citizen probably doesn’t read the Wall Street Journal) but also because the local media will pick up a story in the international media that has a Korean angle, thus giving the international coverage bot added credibility and a kind of “halo” effect. Savvy communicators can use this tendency to enhance the credibility of their announcements by incorporating international media into the mix. Anything that enhances the reputation of Korea overseas is good news in Korea.

For that reason, Korean companies will sometimes issue a news release when they they get some good ink in a respected international media – and the local newspapers will pick it up. However, the same companies also sometimes make the mistake of attaching the same logic to global releases of good international media coverage. I have actually been asked quite seriously to issue a release when the company for which I worked was featured in the Wall Street Journal – coverage which arose as a result of a pitch that I made myself!

To most PR people, it is self-evident that the simple fact that an article was carried in one newspaper is not going to be seen as news in another, competing media. Granted there may be different angles that media may pick up on, but no-one should expect to receive a lot of coverage for a release that begins “According to the Financial Times…”

However, what is the situation with product tests? When consumer media run product comparisons, do the results make good news stories? Is a glowing review in “Consumer Reports” worth a media alert?

As tempting as it may be, my perspective is that, as a standalone release, no it isn’t. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get generate more media coverage from the story. Pitch an angle relating to advances in product quality, customer service, distribution, marketing or some other corporate function and use the good review or test result as a proof point.

Ofcourse, the rules are different for industry awards: no-one would suggest that a top JD Power ranking, an Oscar or a TIPA award shouldn’t be used in media releases. There are also some media awards that transcend the media themselves – the Fortune 500 list, for example, is a global indicator of quality. But for most awards or test results that essentially represent the opinion of one media outlet, I would say put it in the boilerplate but leave it out of the lead paragraph. There are many other ways to tell your story in a way that media will be interested in covering.

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