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2019 Planning: Questions to Ask When Building Your Media Strategy

Whether you are working with an agency, handling in-house or preparing to kick off the RFP process, there are a handful of key questions to ask in building your media and communications strategy for 2019.

One of the most important parts of ensuring a successful year in marketing and PR, is the relationships and quality of the team dynamic. Yes, this includes team members that have great media relationships, but even more important is that the team brings skill sets and varying levels of experience that are complimentary to the overall group. They need to be collaborative, able to push back when needed and unafraid to push the envelope.

So, if you don’t have a great team in place, start there, lean on your trusted agency partner (or find one), and then start asking these questions. Otherwise, be sure to talk with your team through the following considerations when building out a plan for the year.

  • Is your budget proportionate to your expectations? To me, expectations vs. reality memes are one of the funniest forms of comedy. From Pinterest fails to parenting mishaps and workout blunders, I can relate on many levels. But media expectations and budget realities are no joke. Any company looking to have a huge year in marketing in PR must be ready to bolster those goals with adequate resources. By all means, be frugal and conservative about spending, but remember that like in any other area of business and life, you get what you pay for.   
  • Are you leveraging the right spokespeople? If you have a CEO who can slam dunk every interview, good for you. Keep her in the limelight. But if your spokesperson has gone through media training and is still struggling to keep reporters engaged or tell the brand story in a way that resonates, don’t be afraid to find someone else to step in. A charismatic, media-darling mid-level exec is better than a guarded or overworked CEO any day.
  • Have you done a thorough audit of what’s working, what’s not and why? Successes and failures of the previous year, and learnings from them, should lay the foundation for everything you plan to do in the coming year. Don’t reinvent the wheel for things that are working, and don’t repeat past mistakes.
  • What media placements will really move the needle? Sure everyone wants coverage in the Wall Street Journal, but is a mention there going to make more of an impact for your business than an in-depth feature in a key vertical publication? Moreover, don’t limit your idea of placements to traditional coverage alone. It’s important, but it’s not your only channel.
  • Do you have a strong story and storytellers? Along the same lines as ensuring the right spokespeople, make sure your message is strong and engaging, and that you have great storytellers sharing it with the world. Beyond spokespeople, this includes strong writers who can convey your voice and deliver fresh content all year long.
  • Who cares and why? Maybe I’m stating the obvious, but I’ve worked with a lot of clients that struggle to answer this question. It’s an important one. If you don’t know who cares and why they care, then you can’t expect a reporter to. Make sure you have a clear answer to this before you begin media outreach.
  • Do you have backup? Data, customer testimonials, analysts, influencers and partners are critical in helping you prove every statement and claim in your overall story. Without strong backup, it will be challenging to gain meaningful traction with the media.
  • Is your plan holistic? Does it take feedback and requests from the sales and product teams into consideration? Does it include thought leadership? Is it tapping into new areas that have been overlooked in years past?
  • Do you care about influencers? Should you? Have your team or your agency conduct an audit of the influencers that impact your industry, and determine if relationship building with them will help you meet your goals.  
  • How do you measure success? Marketing and PR’s impact is notoriously difficult to measure. But with experience and new tools, practitioners are getting better at connecting the dots. Your plan should clearly state how you measure success and what data is needed as part of that measurement process.
  • What’s your fail-safe? If the plan isn’t working halfway through the year, do you have a plan B? A plan C? Make sure you do, and that your team is empowered to quickly course correct when necessary.

Hopefully these questions will help inspire important discussions and brainstorming to make 2019 your best year yet. Share in the comments any additional questions your team asks during planning exercises.


  • Ashley Allman

    Ashley Allman, Director of Content at Barokas, has been in print and digital media and PR for the last 15 years, with a heavy focus on ghostwriting, technical writing and content support. Her work has appeared in outlets across the U.S., UK and APAC, including Bloomberg, Geekwire, Network Computing, eWeek, Inc., National Law Journal, Corporate Counsel, Computer Business Review, Ethical Boardroom, SC Magazine and various technical journals.

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