Push Me - Pull Me

An important objective of marketing is to secure media placements in the publications and Internet sites that your target buyers read in order to increase your company’s visibility, generate awareness of your brand and get sales leads. How you do this is with an aggressive and well coordinated public relations campaign that repeatedly delivers a consistent message about your company and supports your company’s marketing objectives – and if possible, ties into something newsworthy.

At HRmarketer.com, we’ve helped distribute thousands of press releases over the last three years on behalf of our customers - human resource service providers. We’ve also communicated with hundreds of journalists that cover the human capital industry over this three year period. And with the launch of our HRintelligence service that tracks media placements for all HR services providers, we’ve come up with some interesting information on why and how HR vendors get press coverage. There are three ways companies get press coverage (not including paid advertorials or bylined placements) – let’s call them Pull, Push and Push/Pull.
  1. Pull: These are unsolicited inquiries from journalists who seek you or your company out for a story they are writing.
  2. Push: These are unsolicited communications (emails and/or phone calls) you make (or “pitch”) to journalists that result in a journalist writing a story they hadn’t necessarily planned on writing.
  3. Push/Pull: A combination of the above, these are instances where a journalist is actively seeking information for a story at the same time you are providing relevant information. For example, the journalist may search Google for a topic and your company and/or press release shows up. Placements you get by responding to editorial query services like ProfNet or HRsourceNet would also fall into this Push/Pull category. A Push email can also come back as a Push/Pull if the journalist saved your release thinking they may cover the idea in the future.
When analyzing media coverage for the average company in the human resources space, we’d estimate that 5% of their coverage comes from Pull, 5% from Push and 90% from Push/Pull – a Bell curve. Let’s face it, unless you are a major publicly traded HR services company like Hewitt Associates or Ceridian the unsolicited Pull inquiries are pretty rare. Same goes for Push. By the way, not all Pull coverage is good – think Eliot Spitzer and Marsh or PeopleSoft and Oracle.

So what does all this mean? Well, there are things HR service providers can do that will increase the number of Pull, Push and Push/Pull placements their company gets. Here’s how:

Pull: Vendor’s have a surprisingly high degree of control in increasing the number of Pull inquiries. A Pull inquiry usually occurs because the journalist thinks of you as an expert in a particular category of HR – you’re at the top of his or her mind. To achieve this status, you must build a relationship with a few key journalists and position yourself as a credible information source on a few key topics (that obviously relate to your company’s products). This is not sales and press releases alone do not accomplish this although they are a means to and end. In fact, your Push strategies can help initiate this relationship. To increase your Pull placements, get to know a few journalists and what they write about. Offer yourself (or your clients) as an expert source on a few topics in their area of focus. Write them a nice email on a story they wrote (and cc: their editor) and perhaps give them follow-up story ideas. Send them information that you feel may be of interest to them. And be patient and never ever get promotional. Relationships take time to build.

Push: Unlike Pull, vendors have little or no control over Push coverage (you can’t force a journalist to write a story). All you can do here is send occasional story ideas and pitches to the journalist. But don’t be a pest and don’t keep calling the journalist asking “hey, did you get my press release”.

Push/Pull: Vendors have the greatest control over Push/Pull media placements. Write at least one “newsworthy” press release every month and send it to the journalists covering the HR space as well as over a wire service that places the release on major Internet news portals and search engines. Like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play. In fact, having a steady drumbeat of news coming from your company can only help to increase all Push, Pull and Push/Pull placement opportunities.

So, the one concept everyone should take away from this posting is that every HR service provider should send out at least one news announcement every month. Period. No exceptions.

Need more proof as to the importance of this? Check this out. As I mentioned earlier, our HRintelligence service tracks media and advertising placements for all HR services providers. Well, when analyzing placements over the last several months we noticed something interesting. There is a zero correlation between the number of ads a company places and the amount of editorial coverage they get. Conversely, there is a high correlation between the amount of media placements a company gets and the amount of news releases they distribute.