Wednesday, April 29, 2009

MEDIA COVERAGE - Erik Soerflaten





Agenda Setting Theory

The idea behind the Agenda Setting Theory is that the media can’t tell people whattothink, but it can tell them what to think about. Magazines and newspapers choosewhichstories to cover and what to write. From a public relations perspective, you would wanttoget the media to write positive stories about your client or company – in this case, TOMS.Youwant to influence the media into writing something about TOMS so that readersbecomeaware of the company, what it does and, hence, start talking about it.

TOMS has received a lot of coverage in both magazines and newspapers and what’sinteresting is that this coverage is not aimed at only one specific segment of the population.I have looked at articles from four different magazines: People, TIME, Vogue and Men’sHealth – and they all have different target audiences – both when it comes to sex and age.For instance, more than 50 percent more women than men read People every week –compared to TIME where the audience is almost made up of 50 percent male and 50 percentwomen. The demographics are even more polarized with Vogue where 79 percent of thereaders are women – and with Men’s Health, where 84 percent of the audience is male. Beingthat these magazines that features stories about TOMS have such varied audiences, it alsoshows that TOMS products are aimed at a varied audience.

All the articles are fairly similar – they all promote TOMS in a positive light and the photos used, not only show TOMS’ founder Blake Mycoskie, but there are also close-ups of the shoe(s) as well.

The most interesting news coverage is probably the story that appeared in Men’s Health in September 2008. This is not only a story about TOMS and its founder, Blake Mycoskie, the story is actually written by Mycoskie himself. Not only is he being promoted in a large national magazine, he is doing it with his own words. From a public relations perspective, this is a prime example of setting the agenda. What speaks against this story is, however, the fact that it is written by Mycoskie himself. He is getting his name out there, but the story is, inevitable, not objective.

These examples are public relations orientated in a simple way. They are setting the agenda. The magazines have obviously been in contact with the company to write these stories – for instace, in the story that appeared in TIME, both of the photos are credited to Paige Mycoskie – Blake’s sister. These stories are getting the name TOMS out there for at lot of people to notice. What the audience does with this information, on the other hand, is a different question.

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