There’s a myth in public relations, that the reason we do the work we do is to get our clients exposure, to get them media coverage.
This is a myth that can be very rewarding to bust.
Why is that, when “getting earned media” sounds like a perfectly reasonable objective for a public relations professional?
Because to reap the full rewards of good PR, you need to see your earned media as a tool to leverage — not a final objective.
It’s the start of a new race.
Not a finish line.
So if earned media isn’t simply an end in itself, what is its purpose?
And better yet, how do we properly leverage it?
The Value of Earned Media
Yes, earned media is important — the coverage we get from independent third-party outlets is almost unbeatable in terms of the recognition and credibility it can give you.
‘Earned media’ gets its name for precisely this reason — because it can’t be bought.
When a real-life journalist from a reputable website, newspaper or broadcaster makes the choice to cover your story, they are making a professional evaluation that your story is one worth covering.
With this coverage, the unbiased outside world has given you a stamp of approval — and this coverage is living proof.
Use It, Before You Lose It
The first thing you should do once you get earned media coverage is use it.
Use it on your socials. Use it in your newsletter. Use it in your next presentation to staff or your next conference call to investors.
Most of all — use it, and use it well, before it ceases to be useful.
While some media pieces can remain useful over the long term — or “evergreen,” as it’s known — most of it is best used fresh.
This is especially true in the news media, but is true in many other settings too: readers of trade journals, for example, want to know their information is current.
Bottom line, properly leveraging your media exposure comes with a deadline.
Don’t Stop Short of the Objective
Getting good earned media coverage is something to celebrate — but you can’t stop there.
The point of public relations isn’t just to get media coverage. The point of public relations is to achieve your brand’s strategic goals.
We’ll talk more about strategic goals and how to set them in a later blog post.
For now, what you need to know is how to take the exposure that you’ve earned, and use it as leverage to achieve the next step in your strategic plan.
It’s not every day that you wake up to find yourself or the company in the news.
When that day comes, you need to be ready, willing and able to seize it.
Put Your Plan into Action
Coverage for its own sake is rarely a good plan, but coverage can unlock a lot of doors.
Once we start to see it as an asset to deploy — and not a static feather in our cap — we start to see opportunities everywhere.
A strong, shareable piece of media coverage creates an ongoing opportunity for your corporate social media channels to create compelling new content, as well as for employees and followers to share your story along with the reasons they support you. By pulling a snippet or quote and creating a visual ‘postcard’, your marketing team can turn an article into an eye-grabbing post for a variety of platforms. By tagging the media outlet, the participants in the story, and even the reporter (to say thanks!), you can enhance the engagement your social posts will get.
Investor & Donor Relations
Media exposure can have a direct effect on your bottom line in many forms. First and foremost, watch what happens when your community of donors, or your investors and shareholders, hear the news. But make sure you share it in newsletters, press releases, forum posts, and other forms that will reach them! They may not come across it on their own.
B2B & B2C Sales
There are few better forms of ‘proof of value’ or ‘proof it works’ than credible earned media coverage. That’s why you need to make sure your sales teams know about the positive news story you’ve earned. By having links to the article to include in their email signatures and outreach messages, they have a powerful new tool in their hands.
Website & SEO
Whether it’s an ‘As Seen In’ collection of media logos, or an ‘In The News’ section, there are a variety of ways you can highlight your earned media coverage on your website. As well as making your page more appealing, by including full-length copies of the article as well as links to the original article, you are helping to enhance your website’s SEO.