Are you congratulating yourself for what may be a false marketing payoff?

“OMG! Congratulations”

“Is this you???!!!”

"Did you see SNL Weekend Update? I think they were talking about you!”

Boss says, “We need to be in ‘the news’ more.”

So, I started pitching the story of every new sale to local newspapers where we were installing our product, because local people still read their local newspapers. I also started writing articles for and pitching the trade press, because our customers read their industry-specific trade publications.

One day, I was working in a coffee shop and texts, social tags, and emails started pouring in from friends.

One of the stories I had pitched to a small newspaper near Cleveland was picked up nationally. All of a sudden a FOX news crew was at the client’s place of business, which just happened also to be his house, and the AP was picking it up. CNN, SNL, NPR. I even got a call from the New York Times Magazine. Swoon.

As a PR person, this was awesomesauce! It was so fun to see our brand on the home page of Yahoo! News.

When you’re promoting waterbeds for dairy cows to sleep on, reporters who need some crazy new feel-good story about rural America are pretty much guaranteed to be interested.

But guess what? All of that national media didn’t really matter.

If I had measured my success in earned media dollars, I would have had a bang-up year. I am am-ay-zing! I can’t believe Regis and Kelly talked about us.

But I didn’t. What actually mattered was that first article in that first newspaper. And the follow up on the local FOX channel. And the fact that I could send the video link to Progressive Dairyman and pitch a customer profile. That was the real payoff, not the FOOD Network asking us to be in an episode about cheese.

It was fun - don’t get me wrong - and when it happened another time, I was just as pleased. But I knew where our customers go to learn, and that’s where 100% of my effort was focused in terms of investing in earned media.

And I only measured my success when an article was published that resulted in more dairy producers and industry experts buying into the idea of dairy cow waterbeds.

Do you know what your marketing investment is buying? I’m happy to help you figure it out. Download my quick marketing audit worksheet.