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How To Set Quarterly Goals for Media Coverage
January 18th, 2022
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Ready or not, 2022 is here, and with the change in year comes the challenge and opportunity of creating new goals for your business. Every lap around the sun presents entrepreneurs with four shiny new quarters to meet the demands of their growing company. In fact, setting smaller quarterly goals—rather than one big yearly goal—is a much more effective way of moving your numbers, tracking progress, and ultimately, realizing your success. 

As you consider the months ahead of you, media coverage is likely one of your top priorities. After all, earned media can improve your brand’s online reputation, boost sales, and help you to establish authority and trust within your industry. 

But to achieve the type of media hits you crave, it’s essential to be strategic. And breaking down 365 days into three-month segments can be more efficient in tracking accountability and progress, according to Kiana Montogomery, head publicist and owner at Ki Takeaways

“When teams can check in quarterly, there are more opportunities to monitor your progress and pivot if a strategy is not working,” Montgomery continues. “Setting quarterly goals can also help with team morale. Rather than waiting until the end of the year to highlight success, allowing your team to celebrate the small wins will keep energy and pride high.”

Here, Press Hook’s recommendations for the best media coverage quarterly goals for 2022:

Quarter One:

The first part of the year is rife with change. Many people are eager to set resolutions in January, but most forget about them by February. However, these first few months of the year serve as a critical time for setting quarterly goals since they truly lay the foundation for your business. Starting with the big picture can be helpful. 

Create your calendar 

Bonnie Taylor, the vice president of strategy & communications at Take Resources suggests taking time in Quarter One to develop a long-lead editorial calendar focusing on your key 2022 moments. Taylor explains that, for publicists, each client will always have their brand pillar moments that they want to see earned coverage for. This includes any new product or internal news that can be sent under embargo. Brands should begin 2022 with an annual planning meeting to lay out the calendar and highlight the most important dates. 

Map out key campaigns

Along the same lines, setting quarterly goals for media placements and coverages requires brands to align with editorial blueprints, says Lindsay Smolan, the founder of VLIV Communications. Sometimes, you can get caught up in what’s happening inside of your own business and miss opportunities where a magazine or digital publication could feature you. 

For example, if your brand appeals to the senior citizen market, you may want to have a strategy for Grandparents’ Day in September. Or, if you’re a consumer pet company, you may need to strategize for the annual ‘Take Your Dog to Work Day’ in June. Consult with a publicist (or use your Press Hook membership and resources!) to better understand what the media will be covering and when they’ll start that work. 

Also, use this time to be genuinely strategic—and don’t not just hop on any bandwagon. Journalists are less likely to cover a brand that’s a stretch for a story. For instance, you are an avid recycler; while great, that doesn’t make you an expert on climate change. Likewise, if your goal is to be a thought-leader in the food industry space, you shouldn’t waste time pitching about fashion. 

To help you pick and choose the correct alignments, Smolan recommends having one key message and campaign each quarter and then building specific goals around it. “All coverage should support the points they are trying to make—if any of the coverage completely leaves out any of the key points, it may not be considered a win,” she says. “Brands should aim to have at least one or two of their key messaging points reflected in the messaging. If this doesn't happen, they can evaluate what may have gone wrong.”

Quarter Two:

Spring is in full swing, and summer is right around the corner in Quarter Two. By now, you have likely found a groove with pitching and media coverage, but there are always ways to improve. Some key considerations to make:

Zero-in on expertise opportunities 

Taylor says ‘springing forward’ is when you’ll see the quickest transition in types of articles and overall themes. “It’s important to make sure that if you are pitching an expert, that their topics of discussion correlate with the long-lead summer or even holiday articles.” Most importantly, Taylor says, don’t forget about quick hits that could resonate with spring occasions and milestones, like graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and so on. 

This can be an ideal time to reconsider the topics you feel comfortable providing commentary for when journalists request quotes. To do this, Taylor suggests pulling together a list of areas of expertise. Then, you can find reporters who cover these specific beats and target their inboxes. 

Drill down on messaging

Media coverage and placements rely heavily on the right messaging. This is why many brands decide to hire publicists or use a service like Press Hook to gain better insight and access to the media. During Quarter Two, drill down on what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, and where you’re pushing your message, Justin Goldstein, the founder of Press Records Communication, advises.

“If you realize your messaging and company statement feels a bit outdated, now is the time to pull back and figure out clear, cohesive messaging that can be used across the board,” Goldstein says. This means doubling down on the copy on your website, social media channels, press materials, and much more. Goldstein recommends taking a step back and deciding which two to three key points you want a reporter to take away from a press release or an interview. Then, go from there. 

Quarter Three:

While not technically the last quarter, the third segment of the year is often when you dictate the success of the fourth. This is because editorial calendars often work two to three months in advance, so you’re not only working on media placements for Q3 but also prepping for Q4 at the same time. To say it’s busy is an understatement. Strategically set yourself up for success by figuring out how to make all of the year’s hard work work for you in Q4 and beyond. 

Gear up for back-to-school and holiday

Ever wonder why they call it ‘Christmas in July’? Most print magazines begin carving out their holiday editorial calendars six full months in advance. This means part of setting quarterly goals in Quarter Three should be to highlight the type of products you’ll be pushing for gift guides. But just because you’re getting into the holiday spirit a bit early doesn’t mean that you can overlook timely current opportunities for coverage. ‘Back-to-school’ season falls during this quarter and many publications cover it extensively, so be sure to keep it on your radar. 

“This is the most important time to familiarize yourself with media deadlines and story angles. A client goal is usually to hit Oprah's gift guide, so make sure you know your targets and have plenty of time to ship products out for review,” Taylor adds. This is also a strategic time to look into your repository of high-resolution product images (at least 300 DPI), brand logos, and captivating, informative product descriptions—media will especially need those come gift guide season.

Establish how to move the needle 

Goldstein says many brands are so focused on getting amazing media opportunities that they forget the next step: how to leverage these placements. Once you’ve secured mentions in a handful of publications, what should you do with them? The first step is to post all recent coverage to your website, further enhancing your credibility. Then, you can start to use them across all of your platforms. Here are a few examples:

  • Use pull quotes from different interviews in social posts. 
  • Share your expertise and media placements on LinkedIn and via your newsletter.
  • Feature your favorite press mentions on social media with a dedicated post.

Remember, good press placements can also help secure future byline opportunities, speaking gigs, book contracts, and of course, more media opportunities, Goldstein adds.

Quarter Four:

You made it to the home stretch! Setting quarterly goals is still important as you wrap up another (successful!) year. Though the last three months will undeniably be packed with end-of-year reporting, gift guides, and other big moments, it’s also an opportunity to put on your strategic hat and process your growth.

Deep dive into analytics

As Taylor puts it, the end of the year always means one goal: to hit as many articles and make as much noise as possible. After all, it’s your last shot! “It’s also the right time to take a deep dive into your competitive set and see what stories throughout the year featured your competitors,” Taylor continues. “Then, you can come up with a unique angle and introduce yourself to the writer and offer the opportunity for a follow-up article with your expertise or product. December should be focused on finalizing a plan for the following year.”

Also, keep in mind that Quarter Four is absolutely jam-packed for journalists, so it’s more important than ever to respect their deadlines and requests. Taylor also urges brands to give them some space and resist the urge to follow up endlessly. “It’s likely that if they are doing a product round-up, they have received hundreds of pitches and are working hard to get through it,” Taylor says. “Just breathe, and know that if they are interested, they will come back to you.”

Promote goodwill 

Last, but not least, Montgomery advises using Quarter Four as a time to promote goodwill and highlight your social responsibility. “Q4 consists of strong awareness days to tie in your non-profit work, including Giving Tuesday and various December holidays,” she says. “Make sure to choose a mission that aligns with their brand. It can be an essential issue, a cause important to a team member, or a personal passion. There is nothing worse than a disingenuous donation.”