The Hidden PR Gold Mine

blogpic_billIn today’s economy, stretching the marketing budget of many senior communities has gone from a basic technique to an art form. So it’s really good news when communities learn that there is “hidden gold” to fuel their brand building and lead generation—if they only know where to look and how to mine it out. This hidden wealth is in the form of news assets that are all around them but seemingly invisible to the untrained eye.

We liken these news assets to raw ore waiting to be extracted and refined so it can be traded for highly valuable editorial print and broadcast coverage in your local media market. Not surprisingly, we call this process “story mining,” since its aim is to bring your hidden news assets to light—and to market.  So what are those hidden news assets and how do you mine them?

Most senior communities recognize events such as a grand opening or a multi-million dollar addition as newsworthy—and write a news release.  But how many would sift across their entire organization to find a dozen or so other news assets—or know them if they saw them?

While not as apparent as grand openings, examples of some less obvious news assets would include  executive profiles, “green” programs, resident profiles, special programs, community milestones, staff profiles, health stories, outreach to the local community, and special industry or government recognition for excellence.

Another way to leverage news assets is to simply create your own, such as having your executive director or health services director comment on topics of public interest such as Alzheimer’s Disease, home health care, or how to know when moving to a senior community makes sense—to name only a few.

Once identified and extracted via a sharp news nose and solid interviews, these news assets need to be refined in terms of their news value by bringing the most important points to the front of the story and establishing a logical set of reasons why local media should want to “run with it.”

Community marketing staff can become reasonably adept at any of these processes. However, having your news assets prepared and presented to the media by a third party with years of experience can put your story potential in the very best light.

Calls from community marketing folks for free publicity are often viewed by the media as an attempt to avoid buying advertising space or air time. When your agency contacts them, however, the psychology is entirely different and the media are often even grateful for regular offers of third-party press materials on your behalf.

Don’t ask me why it works differently when a third party advocate is involved, but the best analogy I can offer is that it’s similar to the greater influence your attorney has in a court room when advocating on your behalf.

That’s a rough equivalence and, happily, doesn’t carry over fully in a PR setting.  But the exceptional ROI from using a highly specialized PR firm can multiply your investment many times over.  As an added bonus, your PR coverage will be read much more than your ads, while also providing your sales staff with powerful handouts for the cost of photocopies.  That’s a 24-karat opportunity you shouldn’t miss.

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