When it comes to media strategy, there are times when you have no choice but to play defense.  A negative event – for example, a legal, regulatory, or reputational problem – surfaces in the media and the team has to quickly roll into action to manage the story.

In these situations, your priority is neutralizing or moderating the coverage.  The subject has been dictated to you, and there’s often less latitude to take the story in strongly positive direction.  A win may be simply persuading a reporter to write a less negative story, getting equal airtime for your point of view, or slowing the story’s spread in the media.  Damage control is often top of mind.

Playing Offense…with confidence

Fortunately, there are also opportunities to play offense. When your team has latitude to shape – or even create – the story, there’s extra room for creativity and many more possibilities to consider.  For this “proactive” coverage, the opportunity to positively impact perceptions about your
organization is limited only by resources and ingenuity.

The thought leadership content that some companies publish is one good example of proactive coverage.  Another is coverage related to corporate and social responsibility.  But the effectiveness of such content can vary widely.  Some topics and angles capture consumers’ imagination, while others don’t.  So how should you decide where to invest your limited time and energy to get the best results?

Accurate PR measurement data is invaluable here.  For example, what if your media monitoring system allowed you to look back at media metrics showing how much impact specific topics within your coverage generated among your target audiences?  Wouldn’t this data help you make better content planning decisions?

Insurance Industry Lessons

PublicRelay recently gathered this type of media measurement data for coverage of five leading property & casualty insurers.  The goal was to identify where there might be opportunities to play better offense – i.e., which content topics might be worthy of greater investment because of their tone, reach, and sharing characteristics.

Here are some examples of patterns we observed in the data:

  • Coverage of Product Innovations (positive in nature) achieved about three times the reach and significantly higher social sharing than Claims Coverage (which had a significant negative component).
  • Thought Leadership coverage (positive in nature) achieved higher social sharing levels than any of the traditionally “defensive” topics insurers encounter, such as coverage of Rate Increases and Lawsuits.
  • Certain sub-topics within the thought leadership category achieved still higher sharing levels – more than twice the overall average for thought leadership content – making them especially worthy of consideration for future campaigns and outreach.

Proactive Media Strategy

If you want to improve your strategy for getting proactive coverage, start by asking yourself questions like the following:

  • Which topics within your content generate the most positive perceptions?
  • Which of these topics are most likely to achieve significant reach?
  • Which topics achieve the most social sharing?
  • Are there opportunities to shift your content mix and re-focus your relationship-building with the media to boost your results?

If you aren’t getting this kind of actionable intelligence from your current media monitoring and measurement metrics, you may be missing important opportunities to significantly boost the ROI from your team’s efforts and demonstrate impact to your company’s leadership.

Similar thinking can also be applied when you’re playing defense– stay tuned for a future post on this.

Chris Bolster is a Managing Partner at PublicRelay. 

Related Resources