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It’s easy to think that one well-placed story will skyrocket your company to fame and fortune. If only the New York Times or Wall Street Journal would run a story about how you’ve doubled reading achievement in an urban school district, your sales team would be overrun with inbound leads.
This is a common misperception. Sure, at PRP we’ve landed many impactful stories in major publications that dramatically raise the profile of our client family and their customers, but the truth is that, especially if you’re a company that’s relatively new to PR, one article will not change the trajectory of your company. Your buyers most likely aren’t only reading the NYT.
We’ve written before about how anything you’re trying to sell to an education audience usually has to appeal to many audiences. You more than likely need to build relationships with superintendents, CAOs, or a CTO who will eventually sign a purchase order. But your product or service has to be useful for teachers and engaging for students. Targeting publications specific to your buyers is critical, but generating widespread awareness and goodwill toward your brand is as well. Especially today, with the rising tide of parent empowerment, parents often need to feel excited about your product, too.
If any of these gatekeepers don’t like your product or don’t feel comfortable working with you, you may lose the opportunity to partner with that district. To talk to each of them on their own terms, you’ll need to understand each of them deeply. (Shoutout to Hubspot’s Make my Persona tool.) But, they don’t all read the same publications or get their news from the same sources. They have different personalities. Some prefer newsletters. Some trust influencers. Some might rely exclusively on their network.
Imagine that you are a welder. Do you read the Wall Street Journal to decide what welding tools to get for your workspace? Probably not. You may read it to stay current on national welding trends, but you look to publications and sources specific to your industry for best practices. The same is true of many other fields — including education. A district administrator might read the Times for news, but when she’s looking for professional recommendations, she might be much more likely to turn to a resource like, well… District Administration.
Your best bet to reach education buyers in the media is to know who your buyers are, what they need, and what their goals are. Then, seek out the blogs, newsletters, influencers, magazines, podcasts, and other media they’re most likely to read and trust. These publications and news sources focus on specific roles, subject areas, or geographical regions.
A publication might only have a few hundred readers, but if one of those readers is the superintendent in a district you have on your shortlist, then that publication might serve you better than a big story in a major media outlet.
So here’s the trick: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Remember the long education buying cycle? Start by knowing your audience, and make sure that you’re pitching stories to the publications they read and trust. Then, keep the stories coming so that you become a trusted source for those publications.
PRP Group, formerly PR with Panache! is an award-winning education PR and marketing firm serving the pre-K—12 and higher-ed community.