We all crave attention for our work.
When a blogger references our creation, the media features our product, or an influencer spreads our hashtag, it can feel like the traction we need to get the things we want.
But not all publicity is good publicity — some of it’s meaningless.
In an increasingly cluttered media landscape, we need attention that moves the needle and not just our ego.
Here are a few things to keep in mind with your next attention-getting campaign (or to measure the effectiveness of the people you hire to do so).
1. Measure Metrics That Matter
All metrics are not created equal — and too many publicists and marketers focus on the wrong ones.
Press clips and mentions may have value, but their value often pales in comparison to other available metrics.
What matters isn’t just that a publication writes about a client, but rather the impact of that coverage.
How much was the article shared? How much traffic did it generate? How many views did the video receive? How many conversions did it drive?
One media mention that drives significant action is infinitely more valuable than 100 press hits that don’t.
2. Tell Shareable Stories
Social platforms drive the majority of attention these days and those social platforms are driven by shareable content.
That’s why publicists and marketers need to not only tell stories as “news,” but to tell those stories in a shareable way.
That’s the key to unlocking the attention you need.
This means crafting stories about more than just who, what, where, when, and why.
You need stories that answer questions like these for our audience:
“Who else in my life needs to know this?”
“What does this mean for me?”
“Where is this coming from or going to?”
“When is this going to impact me?”
“Why should I care?”
There’s a difference between why people consume media and why they share it.
To get the attention you want, you have to tap into that shareability.
Speaking of which, here are some examples of how to do that.
3. Get Creative
I can’t believe people still send press releases.
We live in a world with infinite ways to tell our story and a press release is the least compelling of them.
Whether you employ a video, GIF, website, app, infographic, tweet or even something as simple as a blog post, you’ll be better served to put your news into the world in just about any form other than a press release.
There’s never been more competition for attention in history and you need every advantage you can muster.
Sending a traditional press release won’t get you noticed — it just sends a message that your news isn’t noteworthy.
4. Don’t Overrate Media Brands
A story in USA Today or Time magazine doesn’t mean what it used to.
Landing on the pages (or websites) of those publications used to be a big deal and certainly looked great in a PR report.
But when print publications moved to the web (chasing the eyeballs of their readership), it fundamentally changed what it means to be featured in them.
That’s because they no longer had limited space— their websites offered unlimited pages. This meant coverage in one of those legacy publications no longer ensured your work would actually get seen by its readers. It just meant you get mentioned on a page buried somewhere on their site.
If you look into the traffic of these legacy media brands, you’ll discover that getting featured on their sites often drives significantly less traffic than other small blogs you probably never heard of.
The point isn’t to trash these legacy brands, but rather to recognize the real value of a website hit is based on the traffic it generates and that’s not necessarily tied to the brand.
Don’t get distracted by the sexiness of brand name hits — focus on where people actually pay attention.
5. Set Concrete Success Metrics
You can only improve that which you measure and too often PR and marketing campaigns launch with no clear sense of what they aim to accomplish.
Awareness isn’t a goal — it’s a step toward an action you want somebody to take. That action is the goal.
In mapping out your PR campaign, consider how the awareness you generate will convert to action and look for ways to directly measure the steps it takes to get there.
If you promote a new product with a video, make sure the video incorporates a call to action and links to drive people to the next step — and judge the effectiveness of your campaign on the frequency of those actions.
All the views in the world don’t matter if they don’t convert into action.
6. Focus On a Key Demo
Every publicist knows this: No matter how great you are at your job, you can’t please everybody and you can’t fully control the story.
This has never been more true than now.
The media are no longer the only ones able to reach the world with their opinions— every single person who uses social media has that ability.
That has unleashed a world in which every opinion gets its time in the sun.
We live in a world where transparency is no longer an option — it’s a prerequisite.
That can be challenging, but it’s ok as long as you recognize not everybody is going to be a fan of what you do.
You can try to keep something quiet or spin your way out of an issue, but ultimately it’s going to surface.
You can’t change these circumstances, but you can frame them and remember it only matters what your target audience has to say about the thing you’re promoting.
There are going to be haters and there will be blowback no matter what you do.
But the key is to focus your efforts on connecting to your key demographic and be willing to filter the negative noise that comes from outsiders.
Your audience is always somebody, and never everybody.
BONUS: One more way to get attention for your work…
One of the best ways to get attention for your work is to learn from how others do it.
And I’ve got a secret weapon for you when it comes to that — my For The Interested newsletter.
Every Sunday I share 10 ideas (similar to the one you just read in this post) about how to get better at your life, work, and art.
It’s a cheat sheet to help you get what you want out of life.
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