Playing the Long Game in Media Relations
Earlier this month, we placed a feature story in the Washington Business Journal about Vetcorps Landscaping, a company founded by a pair of United States Navy veterans who struggled to find work after returning home from deployment. Their goal is to grow the business so they could hire more military veterans and donate a portion of their profits to charities supporting veterans and their families.
The WBJ story was a big success for Washington, D.C.-based Vetcorps. It reached a target audience of potential corporate clients and resulted in an uptick in web traffic and several new business inquiries - including calls from several national organizations wanting to talk about doing business with Vetcorps.
Although Vetcorps has an interesting story with a timely hook around the Nov. 11 Veterans Day holiday, the placement didn't come easy. It's actually a good example of how media relations can be a months-long process that requires patience on the part of the PR pro and the client.
You see, we began working with Vetcorps right after they formed in January 2012 and helped with the media relations push around the company's formal launch announcement in March. Despite working nearly every Washington-area media outlet that might have an interest in the startup business - and even landing an interview with a high-profile daily newspaper - we came up mostly empty handed.
It was disappointing, but all that work wasn't for nothing. By November, Vetcorps had a success story to tell. In less than a year, the business had reached profitability and secured enough clients to expand its ranks, hiring two U.S. Marine Corps veterans, another U.S. Navy veteran, and an Army ROTC cadet (part time). So when it was time to go back to those reporters we'd contacted in March, we had some results to share about a company with a name and a story that should already ring a bell. In fact, in the early conversations with the WBJ about the feature story, an editor told us that she was happy that we had updated her on the company's progress... fast forward over a few hurdles, and Vetcorps has a nearly full-page feature with a photo.
Would we have been able to get the big feature if we had landed something smaller in March? Hard to say. But in this case, persistence and patience paid off - reminding us that it's not always a bad thing when you've got to play the long game in media relations.