If you’ve decided that you need to do more to promote your organisation and its products/services in the media, then you need to consider some thorough media planning.
But should you pay for advertising, or should you use other methods? And which method would be the most cost effective for you?
What result are you looking for?
Before you start media planning, you need to decide what you want to achieve and what success will look like. It could be to:
- introduce a new product or service to the market, or to a new section of the market
- sell more of an existing product or service
- encourage support for, and reduce opposition to, a new development
- raise awareness, and trust, of a brand or organisation.
What’s the result worth?
Next you need to decide what the result is worth and how much you’re willing to pay to achieve it. The first two examples above are relatively straightforward. You’ll have an idea of how much you are likely to make from selling the product or service, so you’ll be able to work out how much you are willing to invest to make the sales.
In the third example, success is all about achieving the new development. For example, a new housing estate, commercial building, railway line or airport. The costs of achievement will be much more complex.
And for the final bullet above, you’ll need to have some idea of what sort of awareness you want so you can measure whether or not you’ve achieved it.
Who are your audiences?
If you’re selling a product or service, or promoting a brand, then your audiences are existing and potential new customers. If you are promoting a new development, your audiences will be those who will make the decisions (elected officials and their advisers) and those who influence them (local residents and their representatives, pressure groups, opinion formers and the media). Or if the object is to raise awareness of an organisation, then the audience will be those who matter, such as shareholders, financial advisers, decision makers, opinion formers, customers, clients and employees.
So having decided what you want to achieve, and with whom, you can begin to look at the best ways of getting your messages to your audiences.
What are the media planning options?
When it comes to using the media for promotion, there are three basic options:
- paid media – e.g. paid-for advertising and sponsored features, blogs and posts
- owned media – e.g. your own website, social media pages and emailed newsletters
- earned media – e.g. mentions in the press, social media posts and blogs, and reviews.
The advantage of the first two options is that you have control over what is said in them. They contain the messages you want to give. However, they come with a cost – paid-for advertising isn’t cheap and websites can be costly to create and maintain. Earned media can be much cheaper to achieve, but you are not in control of the messages they give.
Not all media channels are equal
Credibility is an important issue, as not all media channels are equally trusted. If your organisation and its products are well known, well liked and trusted, this won’t be an issue. However, if you have sceptical audiences, they may not be willing to believe messages that you have created and paid for. They may be more likely to believe the views of others, who they see as unbiased, expressed in the earned media channels.
Why is earned media vital?
According to global measurement and data analytics company, Nielsen, earned media has the greatest credibility. It found 83% of people trust the recommendations of friends and family, 70% trust branded websites, while 66% trust both consumer views posted online and editorial content such as news articles.
Earned media has the potential to make the biggest impact. Social media platforms reach millions of people every day and provide an ideal opportunity for sharing good (and bad) experiences of products, services and situations. And according to SocialMediaToday, “it’s the fact that earned media makes people take action that makes it such an important part of content marketing [media planning].”
Time to start media planning
Once you’ve considered all of these factors, it’s time to start your media planning. However, it’s likely you will need help to weigh up the bewildering range of options, consider all the opportunities and risks, and decide which is most likely to have the desired outcome
Communication specialists like Blackstock Consulting can make the task much easier. We have years of experience of the different media and how they work. Our team can help you work out what’s achievable and walk you through the options. We can then work with you to produce a media plan that will achieve your objectives, exceed your expectations and be within budget.
We can help you deliver the plan, advising on messages and timings, and monitor its effectiveness.