Some people only know Advertising Age for its digital presence AdAge, but the magazine has been a beacon for the marketing and advertising industries since 1930. With that in mind, we think it’s pretty exciting that despite all the flashy digital options businesses can choose from, AdAge continues to hail traditional PR as an important component of any marketing plan. A January 2016 AdAge article stated:

Public relations has always played its part in the marketing mix, even if it was added to plans late and rarely recognized like other disciplines. But the emergence of skippable, blockable, opt-out-able advertising, not to mention ever-more integrated campaigns, means PR can suddenly demand more than a supporting role—and maybe even take center stage.

It’s true: Unlike every digital advertising model, from pay-per-click to banners to sponsored content, you can’t click away traditional PR. The fact is: If a specific media placement is executed correctly, then readers will not be aware they are consuming news that was generated via PR efforts (the exact opposite of digital advertising, which is becoming more and more transparent). Wondering how media placement is “executed correctly?” Here’s what we mean.

In correct media placement execution, both sides – the PR professional and the media outlet – are using best practices to perform their roles. Without getting into too much detail, here’s an overview of the ideal media relations process:

  • The client presents a story opportunity
  • The PR team analyzes its news value and identifies the best media outlets to target with the story
  • The PR team approaches those outlets with the story
  • An outlet agrees to place the story, either by contacting the client for an interview or using the information presented by the PR team (often, via a press release)
  • The story is published, with a byline attributed to the journalist

In an ideal scenario, the press release will not be used verbatim as the story – but in reality, portions of it may be. That’s because media outlets are shrinking their staffs at record speed. If this happens, it’s okay; the point of a press release is to communicate the messages the client wants to deliver.

The key to ensuring that readers still recognize it as news? Often, it’s the byline – which is why the PR professional is tasked with finding the right media to target. In some newspaper sections, a byline attributed to a journalist is the best way to recognize legitimate news – but in other sections where the page is populated by short news briefs (a “Community” or “Calendar” page, for example), there may be no bylines at all. That makes them great places for businesses and organizations to disseminate their news. This is just one example of how successful media placement can happen.

Everyone has a role to play in PR. When the PR professional targets the right media outlet and the journalist places the story on the right page, the client benefits from PR success.