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Proactive vs. Reactive Media: How To Gain Maximum Media Exposure

December 20, 2023

Written by
Steven Janiak

man looking at phone for news on Advantage Media

Public relations is vital to building a brand. There’s a certain magic to it. The right story, told to the right media, can change public perception on a subject on any given day. To make that magic, you need two vital components to be a part of your strategy: proactive media and reactive media.

Proactive media are opportunities you plan for and create. Reactive media are opportunities that come through the trending news cycle. Both are essential to gaining maximum media exposure. Let’s explore how they work together.

What Is Proactive Media?

Often considered the more “traditional” approach to PR, proactive media involves executing a planned and strategic pitching cadence. The process begins by creating a strategy based on important dates that you know and can plan to push messaging around, such as upcoming business milestones, product or book launches, and seasonal considerations.

A proactive media strategy includes an overview of all the pitches you plan to send to the media. Proactive media pitch content is typically evergreen; it doesn’t veer too far from your established brand messaging.

Once your proactive strategy is created, pitches, press releases, and announcements are distributed to targeted media. The goal of proactive media is to own your own narrative. To get ahead of the news cycle and encourage the press to cover your message and your expertise in the way you’ve strategically planned for.

A proactive media approach can be a long-game. By asking reporters and journalists to cover your topic in the way you’ve outlined, it can sometimes take more time to see that coverage come to fruition.

In short, just because your PR team pitched it, doesn’t mean that their media contacts are working on that topic right now. Reporters will file the pitch for consideration the next time they do get an assignment on your topic, and coverage can happen at a later date.

The value of proactive media lies in creating and maintaining relationships with the press and owning how, when, and where your story is told for maximum media exposure.

What Are 10 Key Considerations for Proactive PR?

  1. Financial/Investor Relations
  2. Acquisitions/Mergers
  3. Executive and Key Hire Announcements
  4. Reports, Research, Surveys
  5. Case Studies/Success Stories
  6. Product and/or Book Launches
  7. Events
  8. Conferences and Speaking Engagements
  9. Crisis Communications
  10. Seasonal Considerations- Holidays, National Days, etc.

What Is Reactive Media?

Reactive media, or “newsjacking,” is about inserting yourself into a timely, viral story the media is already covering. It involves capitalizing on breaking news to increase your visibility and further establish yourself as an authority and thought leader in your industry.

Reactive media content is still tied to your overall message, but is repositioned or updated to apply to a single moment-in-time. The goal of reactive media is to stay relevant, generate buzz, and jump into the spin of a trending topic.

In order to execute reactive media well, time must be of the essence. With today’s trending news changing at a moment’s notice, you must monitor the news cycle daily to identify opportunities. Just because a story is trending today, it doesn’t mean it will trend tomorrow. And if you let the moment pass, it’s likely another thought leader in your space will jump in to share their perspective.

Leverage trending topics to enhance your PR strategy. Respond promptly with your unique perspective, offering interviews or commentary. This proactive approach keeps you relevant and visible to reporters.

The value of reactive media is positioning yourself as an authority in your field through timely and topical media exposure. It’s all about staying relevant in real time.

Proactive vs. Reactive Media: Striking the Balance for PR Success

The most successful PR strategies have a mix of tactics, from press releases to events to media pitches and more. Proactive and reactive media are an essential part of those tactics, vital to creating and maintaining authority.

In determining your winning strategy, finding the right balance between proactive and reactive media is not a one-size fits all approach. While both are necessary to achieve maximum media exposure, it’s important to determine the right mix for you and your brand. To start, consider:

  • What is your industry?
  • Where are you located?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Where is your target audience reading their news?
  • What steps do you want people to take when they read about you in the media?
  • What are your overall goals and objectives?

Proactive media may make more sense for someone looking to share news about product launches or who is targeting customers in a very niche demographic. In this approach, you build trust with your audience through very tailored and specific messaging.

Reactive media may make more sense for someone looking to establish a stronger and more relevant share-of-voice amongst their peers and competitors. In this approach, you quickly respond to timely topics to further establish yourself as a thought leader.

Both proactive and reactive media should be essential components, but you may not need to utilize both approaches all the time. Flexibility in knowing what to talk about, when, is key.

How Do I Know It’s Working?

Regardless of what approach you take, PR is not a “set it and forget it” process. Just as you need to be monitoring the news cycle daily, you should regularly monitor and assess the effectiveness of your proactive and reactive media plans.

This should involve reviewing metrics such as media impressions, social media engagement and mentions, and website traffic. Determine what part of your strategy is driving results and make adjustments as needed.

Advantage Media can help you find the balance for your own proactive and reactive media strategy to garner maximum media exposure.

Steven Janiak

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