Media placement costs?

I operate a small computer consulting company in Michigan. Since my clients are other businesses, I’ve found advertising to be rather ineffective. What I’m currently doing is investigating media placement services. I’d like to be the “go to” expert on the local evening news when they have a story about the Internet, computer security, etc. One of those “talking heads” that also might take a few questions from callers. I’d like to be the same for a local newspaper or two.

However, I have no clue how to accomplish this; I don’t have any media contacts. I know that some PR firms offer media placement services, but they’ve been very tight lipped about it. Each firm I’ve spoken to has insisted on preparing a whole PR proposal when all I want is a ball-park dollar figure.

I’d appreciate it if anyone would break the vow of silence for me and tell me how much it costs for the services I’ve described. Also, if anyone could recommend other means to accomplish this without having to hire a PR firm, I’d be grateful as well.

“Media Placement” is not involve in getting your face on the evening news: it’s choosing what markets and times for an paid advertising campaign. It would be a break of ethics on the part of a news organization to pay experts for their commentary.

To get onto the news, you need to cultivate a relationship with the reporters. You could, for instance, send them a news release as soon as a new virus is discovered (leave any mention of your business until the final paragraph, BTW). After awhile, they may decide to talk to you to get a live soundbite. But you have to be able to be consistently interesting.

You also have to be there. If the reporter calls, you should talk to her immediately. If they leave a message, get back as soon as you realize they left it. If they call, and you can’t answer immediately, they’ll go to someone else, especially in the beginning (when they may be calling you because their usual source is out of town).

Just a thought:

If your business is other people’s business…why not do co-op marketing with them…you will expand your reach into several markets and begin building a solid “familiar name” foundation.

Also, involve yourself in the local chamber of commerce events and network.

The reason PR firms don’t want to give you a ballpark figure is because you’re asking them “how much does a car cost?” They need to tie you down to whether you’re asking for a Kia or a Porche. Hence the “whole PR proposal” process.

After all, you wouldn’t budget your costs for a sales force without making some basic assumptions of what their targets will be.

Like RealityChuck saiys, the only way to succeed is by building relationships. If you decide you want someone (like a PR-type) to do this for you, but don’t want to pay for full agency services, consider finding a free-lance type who knows your local market and its media. Where I am, that kind of expertise can run anywhere from $75 - $125 an hour.

While I appreciate the reply, I know this to be false. Doing a Google search for “media placement” results in several advertisments hawking what I describe.

Also, I wouldn’t consider it an ethical matter. I would not expect the news outlets to actively endorse me or my company, simply identifying me would suffice. Nor would I expect the media to pay me, or for me to pay them. From what I understand, the money would go to a middleman who orchetrates a mutually benefical arrangement using a network of contacts. Kind of like paying a headhunter.

I understand the reluctance to talk about brass tacks when questioned about a piece of a larger project. I too avoid throwing out specific numbers when questioned about a large network installation, service agreement, etc. However, I know enough about my industry to be able to tell a client how many zeros he could expect on the invoice, just by a cursory conversation. That’s all I’m looking for. An hourly rate doesn’t tell me much without a time estimate as well.

You’ll need to be much more specific than you were in the OP. Are you talking about a one-time project, or a continuing relationship? With reporters they are already familiar with, or a whole new group? Do you want them to go all out every time, or just get you one or two interviews and then quit? Will you want transcripts or recordings of your appearances? Do you want to go through training to learn the do’s and don’ts of working with media?

If you had called me (back in my PR days) I would tell you that I couldn’t give you a budget without an agreed-upon set of goals. Otherwise, how would we know when I was finished?

PR is a service industry, and like most service providers, the cost is going to vary by the amount of service necessary to execute the program. If you’re really serious about this, make an appointment with a couple of agencies, tell them in as much detail as you can what you’re looking for, and let them make a proposal. Be up front about your budget, as well.

Since you’re obviously going to have to let your guard down, is there anyone in the communications industry you know who you could get a referral from? Do you work with an advertising agency? A graphic designer? Technical writer? Do you belong to a trade organization or even a local chamber of commerce?

Media placement is just choosing what media to place your advertising in. OK, would really recommend getting some professional advice from a marketing company (not exclusively PR as that’s just one element in the marketing mix), but:

There are worse things that just asking in this sort of situation. Put together a quick proposal summing up the sort of questions you would see people asking and a background to your experience. Make sure its clear what’s in it for the station, otherwise they will probably not be interested.

Then target radio stations that your target customers would listen to - you may not know this, and this is one area the PR company would have an advantage over you. But this bit is important - advertise on the wrong station and you are wasting your time. The benefit of using the PR company is that they also have loads of useful contacts in the industry who they can tap to help you here.

If you have no clue, try asking some of your customers what they listen to. **If they don’t listen to the radio very much, you may be wasting your time. **

Contact each station and work out the right person to send this proposal to, likely to be the programming manager, but someone who works for a radio station may have another suggestion. Make sure you get a correct name and title, and submit your proposal. Follow up with a phone call. Be patient, it may take some time for them to find an appropriate slot.

However, re my point above, you have just assumed that radio advertising is the right medium for your advertising. I think you have jumped to the solution without properly identifing the problem and considering a range of solutions for cost effectiveness and response.

I think this may be a bit wasted without doing a little research as to what triggers your customers to contact you. Find out more about them - where they live, what media are they exposed to, what made them call you in the first place. If you are providing a service that people only turn to when there’s a problem, make sure your advertising is in the yellow pages etc. If you are a regular service and you need to remind people to call you, other businesses successfully use things like magnets, desk planners etc. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, and then make sure the thing you do is designed to achieve this. You may want to target both existing and new customers - if so, they may need to be targeted with separate executions.