The competition for attention through earned media is fierce. Your small business competes for attention with Fortune 500 companies, direct competitors and even the mom and pop shop. When the numerous options for your brokered attention, such as social media, email, text message and blogs have failed you, you may be wondering what else is there.
Today’s audience can easily tune you out. This makes earned media a must. Historically, what appears old often becomes new again. However, you may be wondering how you can stand out in the crowd.
What is earned media?
“Earned media often refers specifically to publicity gained through editorial influence, whereas social media refers to publicity gained through grassroots action, particularly on the Internet. The media may include any mass media outlets, such as newspaper, television, radio, and the Internet, and may include a variety of formats, such as news articles or shows, letters to the editor, editorials, and polls on television and the Internet. Critically, earned media cannot be bought or owned, it can only be gained organically, hence the term ‘earned’.” ~ Andrew Stephen and Jeff Galak. “The Effects of Traditional and Social Earned Media on Sales”
How can you gain earned media coverage?
In order to be successful with earned media you must first have a well defined marketing strategy and position statement. You’ve recently read about crafting your pitch with a well crafted position statement here on the Viral Solutions Blog. Your position statement is only one parcel among all your plots and is a must before you dive into earned media.
Reporters and media outlets today need content for a 24/7 global audience. They need to know what you know and are starving for information their public will appreciate. Today’s journalist does not want to give you free advertising and that is something you have to understand. The reporter needs just enough content to sell enough advertising to keep their outlet vibrant. The media outlet needs quality content to keep their audience coming back. These earned media resources need your skill and expertise without directly pitching you.
Build attention with a long term strategy.
- Research your industry and make a list of reporters. Hyperlink articles on your blog and use their reporting as resource material. Any media worth its salt will know you did so and remember you when they need a source.
- Connect with those same reporters on LinkedIn. When you invite them, replace the default invite language with attention grabbing short sentences.
- Rewrite your web site bio and statements of what you do and believe on social media outlets. You will be checked out.
- Make a list and check it more than twice. Build a spreadsheet of top influencers you want to engage. Give the majority of the attention to those who respond and appreciate your knowledge. The person we admire the most in our industry is now our partner, Ryan Deiss, because of his team training approach.
- Follow the media outlets on LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Contribute information to relevant posts and share what is appropriate.
- Motivate your audience. Media outlets want to use a source that is active and popular. You need the buzz to help establish you as a thought leader.
- Read Ian Greenleigh’s “Social Media Side Door”. Ian talks about using social media to reach influencers and journalists in your industry while most of us only use social media to reach prospects and build an audience of faithful followers.
- Have a community mindset. Collaborate with others who are centers of influence in your industry and that you have a shared philosophy or belief. Make sure your web site and social media postings are not all about you and your brand. We often share stories by Entrepreneur.com and comment or like articles and posts by Greg Head.
Make your actions match the media audience
- Grandpa isn’t on Snap Chat. Know where your audience gets their information. For example, when I travel the country on United Airlines I notice senior business people reading a printed newspaper while the millennial is on Snap Chat. Your content needs to not only adapt to the audience but also to the media placement.
- Just the facts. Twitter followers and readers of Forbes magazine are into facts, stats and data to back your beliefs. Make your content and postings match your placement.
- Be grateful and thankful. In order to create buzz you need people to talk about the knowledge you have shared. Call them and thank them, send them an email of gratitude and fill out their online forms and comment boxes with praise.
- Know how to be found. When a journalist needs a source, they often to turn to digital media just like you do. They search keywords and hashtags just like you do. Make sure your content is worthy of becoming their source and it utilizes the proper keywords and hashtags the journalists are searching.
Take your brain on the road
- Live events and seminars. Now that you have connected with your industry journalist, invite them to cover your events. Furthermore, when you are attending an industry conference, find the journalist covering that conference and take them to dinner – be the source they need and want.
- Speak for others. Make yourself available as an industry expert for groups, membership organizations and conferences. Public speaking is still very hot. Michael Angelo Caruso is a great example of supporting the needs of Rotarians while offering to teach people how to connect with an audience as he does.
- Support a local event. Build your reach and expand your reputation by sponsoring an event within the communities that you serve. Your consistent and persistent method of giving will gain the attention of industry followers.
- Gain buzz for others. When you have guest speakers at your live events or notice the gurus you follow are presenting at a conference, make sure you promote this through your channels.
Earning media attention is not easy and requires persistent attention grabbing content and praise of others. Those who stick to it earn the media attention. In order to stand out in earned media channels you have to put yourself out there and make yourself available as a quality source of information when the journalistic community needs it. In order to be found, and not be a pest begging for attention, become that desirable source by using these tips.
When considering your old school media resources versus digital marketing social media for attention, where the goal is to gain the attention of earned media outlets, do not make the mistake to separate physical / print from the digital. Work it from 360 degrees and try to be everywhere that makes sense for your targeted market.
Thomas von Ahn
Chief Elephant Slayer for Viral Solutions LLC
“Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful
men and women keep moving. They make mistakes but they
don’t quit.” — Conrad Hilton