The power of “after,” a common communications blindspot

by
As Featured On

The news media are so ephemeral.

I know firsthand, having produced and co-hosted a fresh one-hour radio business newsmagazine each week for the past year plus.

My show, “Business Unconventional,” is broadcast Sunday mornings on 710 KNUS AM in Denver.  KNUS, a Salem Communications station, employs a news/talk format that attracts Colorado’s largest audience of listeners with a disposable income of $100,000 a year and above.

Recognizing a need to examine the issues facing the small businesses and entrepreneurs who drive our state’s economy, each week my Business Unconventional co-host David Biondo and I feature three or four regional business owners and prominent experts.

Our interviews are insightful – if I do say so myself – permitting guests to showcase their accomplishments, while asking them to share their hard-earned lessons of success (and failure) with listeners.  Our audience, we believe, consists mainly of fellow owners, inventors, and self-employed professionals.

The ratings for “Business Unconventional” have been steadily building and month after month we set records for the number of online listeners. Indeed, although a local program, our reach is actually global, thanks to our show’s simultaneous availability as streaming Internet audio; our presence on the Apple iTunes store; and the strategic “private label” repurposing of our content* to reach select groups of small business owners.

Yet most of our guests fail to comprehend that appearing on “Business Unconventional” – at least from a public relations standpoint – is the least potentially productive aspect of the media exposure opportunity that we create.

Indeed, the opportunity to leverage an appearance on our program knocks and knocks and knocks.  But most of our guests never take real advantage of it.

Granted, when it comes to influence and reach, “Business Unconventional” is not CNBC or Fox Business, nor is it a front-page story in The Wall Street Journal nor the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek.

But the core lesson here is very much the same for communications strategists representing every size company interacting with any size media outlet: “After” is often much more important than “During.”

The effective lifespan of any media coverage – both broadcast and print – is incredibly brief.

To illustrate my point, let’s do a thought experiment involving “60 Minutes,” which since 1968 has been the premiere television newsmagazine, drawing huge audiences.

It’s quite a coup to be a featured expert on “60 Minutes” — far better, indeed, than to be the target of one of its investigative probes.

So…. Name me five Wall Street analysts or independent Defense Department experts or foreign policy observers or medical researchers or popular culture pundits who have been interviewed in the past couple years on “60 Minutes”?  Four? Two? Just one?

The Monday after Business Unconventional airs here in Colorado, many of our featured guests get a few calls from friends, family and colleagues who caught their interviews driving to-and-fro or while working around the house.  Our Sunday guests may even hear from a few prospective customers or clients.

By Tuesday, the call count is down to one or two.  By Wednesday – zero.

People, even when they do listen to a news broadcast or read a feature story in print or online, are only paying the most casual attention to the “performers” on the “stage.”

Readers and viewers can well remember the general plot line of the news they just consumed hours later – but seldom can recall much detail about the peripheral characters who were featured.  Recall worsens measurably with each passing day.

Thus, as experience has taught me well, the genuine benefit of getting positive media coverage is not the instant exposure it provides.  Rather, it’s in the “after” market and what opportunities are presented there.  These are opportunities that too often are squandered by those who think that just appearing on “60 Minutes,” or on “Business Unconventional,” is visibility enough.

It’s decidedly not.

When “60 Minutes” or “Business Unconventional” broadcast our weekly newsmagazines, we determine the editorial menu. Our hope is that we can present a content buffet that is palatable enough to keep viewers and listeners coming back regularly to learn what else we will cook up.

But we set the agenda.

Far more powerful, from a communications standpoint, is the listener or viewer who is on the hunt for information – about a specific topic, specialty or individual – who in the course of an Internet search happens upon a guest who was featured on “60 Minutes.”:

Looking to hire a company that is an expert on asbestos removal?  Hmmmm.  Let’s see, on the first page of the organic search engine results you spot eight area companies.

But wait, one of them, ACME Asbestos Removal, was interviewed on “60 Minutes” by Steve Kroft, who called the company’s owner an “expert.”

That is the “after” market – and it is far more powerful and has a much larger impact in producing new customers and leads than the original appearance on “60 Minutes” – or even (if your budget allows) advertising on the CBS mainstay.

Of the 200 or so companies we’ve showcased to date on our local radio news magazine, “Business Unconventional,” I doubt that more than 25 percent of them even mention their radio appearance anywhere on their websites.

What a missed opportunity.

To be fair, many of the companies we feature don’t have the advantage of a full-time public relations employee or the use of a quality outside agency.  But believe me, plenty of our guests avail themselves of both resources and still fumble the chance when it comes to leveraging the “after” market.

There is no “after” market set of instructions that will fit each company and every circumstance.  But this is my 8-Step Guide to reaping the plentiful rewards of the media “after” market.

  1. If the story is positive (or even neutral), always link to it from your company website.
  2. If you already get plenty of positive media coverage, establish your own website page dedicated to showcasing the stories about you or stories in which you’ve been quoted.
  3. If you are seldom, if ever, the subject of positive media coverage – or if the coverage is particularly impressive – showcase it on the homepage of your website.  See the “As Featured On Business Unconventional” logo that our program makes available to our guests.
  4. If you or members of your team have blogs, post a note about the positive media coverage you received.  And be certain to provide a link to the news organization’s page featuring your story.
  5. If the coverage is particularly impressive – either because it is so positive or because it comes from such an authoritative news source – issue a news release about the story.This helps doubly with search engine optimization. Now, in addition to the original story (presumably posted online by the news organization itself), your website and blogs also point to the story, and with a news release, more and more sites will point to it.When a prospective customer searches online for “Asbestos removal Denver,” your company is far more likely to surface high in the organic search results.
  6. Tweet it.  Post it on Facebook.  Pin it on Pinterest.  Harness all your social networking assets. [If you’re not already using social media sites to market yourself, this is a good reason to begin.]
  7. Email an alert about your media coverage to all customers and prospects.  If you already have a company/product e-newsletter, regularly feature your media coverage in it.
  8. Wear it proudly.  If my company was positively profiled by “60 Minutes,” or even by “Business Unconventional,” I’d take note of it on my business cards.  I might even wear a lapel button to all my business meetings featuring the “60 Minutes” logo.  (Inevitably, people will ask “why,” allowing me to spread the coverage message person-to-person.)

A vast amount of effort is expended in this country seeking to place guests on broadcast news programs and experts in print and online news outlets.  The wisest among us, however, know that our work has only begun the day after we succeed.

 * Some Business Unconventional segments are available online as Monday Morning Radio  (www.MondayMorningRadio.com), which is produced in cooperation with the non-profit Wizard Academy in Austin, Texas.  The Wizard Academy community comprises 45,000-plus business owners, executives and creative consultants.