Getting Coverage in Major Newspapers

By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 19, 2012

Every so often video surveillance manufacturers are featured in major newspapers. Today, Avigilon is on the front page of the USA Today's Money section. Here's what it looks like in print:

This raises some interesting questions:

  • How does a manufacturer get featured in such newspapers?
  • What are newspapers looking for?
  • What impact does this have for the manufacturer?

In this note, we offer insights based on our experiences working with the press.

Newspaper Reporters

Newspaper reporters are typically very smart and well-educated but have near zero knowledge about the security industry (e.g., the USA Today reporter of the article above went to the most prestigious journalism program in the country). Despite this, generally, they have just a few days to research and write long features. As such, it is impossible for them to learn the nuances of an industry. They have to make quick guesses on what sounds correct and rely on input from outside sources.

Source Services

Increasingly, reporters depend on services to connect them to 'sources'. The most famous is likely HARO - Help a Reporter Out. Journalists send in requests for free ("Hey, I need to interview an expert in video surveillance by tomorrow") and 'sources' respond. Sources need to pay - up to $149 per month to get these requests.

I tried HARO last month and found it laughable - the 'sources' were overwhelmingly PR people looking to spin. Ironically, Avigilon's PR people were the first to respond to our request (fyi: our request was anonymous so they did not know it was us). That noted, if you are a reporter who knows nothing about a market and have a deadline in a day or two, it is a big time saver.

In speaking with many reporters from top-tier newspapers over the last few years, it has become clear to us, that despite their intelligence, they do not have the time nor background to deeply investigate an area. Whatever manufacturer is selected is often a reflection of convenience or aggressiveness of the company's PR people rather than the quality or positioning of the offering.

The Impact

While these pieces may somewhat impact general branding, they typically do not impact day-to-day business. For instance, a long time ago, when I was at 3VR, they were covered in both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. It was certainly good for morale, investor happiness and general validation but it did not get much, if any notice, from integrators or end users.

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