I have a good friend and mentor whose life goal is to get mentioned in the Wall Street Journal without the word “indicted” by his name. I’ve met many PR pros with similar ambitions. They want to get mentioned in some of the big-name publications (or even niche ones relevant to their brand) with any positive sentiment. Many believe that a positive story in the right pub is the Holy Grail of PR. It’s not going to hurt, for sure, but then what? If they say your name, will the leads and website visitors come flowing in? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
Media mentions are fantastic, but they are only part of a fully integrated and effective strategy. You probably don’t send out a Tweet with a link to your latest eBook and then sit back and wait for amazing results. Chances are you put some paid muscle behind your content strategy. Why should your earned media strategy be any different?
What counts a media mention?
Folks typical associate media mentions with comments about a brand by a journalist in a publication such as a newspaper and a magazine. Those play a significant role, but any unpaid reference to your brand counts as earned media. This may be a comment from a customer on Twitter or LinkedIn. It might be a review on Yelp or Amazon, even an Instagram post that includes your product.
The PESO model (Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned) gives separate consideration to earned and shared media, but they have something critically important in common, you don’t have very much control over them. Sure, you can pitch reporters and create the right conditions to encourage social engagement, but ultimately, your media contacts and social followers have to act on their own to create a media mention.
Why are third-party mentions so critical?
These days consumers have a tidal wave of information coming at them from every direction. Filtering out what is relevant, useful, and trustworthy has become a modern survival skill. In building those internal filters, buyers have become very savvy about the techniques that marketers and PR pros use to promote their brands. They can spot self-serving messages from a mile away and swipe left before the pixels have arranged themselves on the screen.
Does that mean that people don’t believe anything they read? Oh no. According to research, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they do recommendations from friends. So much the better if the review or mention is provided by a credible publication or journalist. Earned media mentions, along with user-generated content may hold the key to boosting your brand to the next level. According to industry analyst Forrester, “The inherent authenticity of user-generated content (UGC) is kryptonite to even the most super of brands. Consumers' honest perspectives deflate brand mythologies and reveal once-hidden flaws. However, marketers are learning that this same content builds brands, too. Authentic and aspirational user-generated content powers some of the best brand-building seen in recent years.”
How can you promote positive third-party messages?
Media mentions and user-generated reviews should be an essential element of your PR strategy. They have a place in every part of the PESO model.
Paid: The beauty of paid media is that you are in complete control. You decide which messages and content are promoted and you get to choose the audience. Don’t lose sight of this powerful ability when you get a media mention worth sharing. You can boost the content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or any of the other channels that your audience loves. You might also consider a content delivery network like Outbrain or Google to reach an even broader audience. Boosting mentions through paid advertising is probably not as expensive as you think and it’s even more effective when you are promoting authentic, third-party insights and reviews.
Earned: Good news! Your earned mentions can absolutely be leveraged to get you even more earned mentions. Your pitches to journalists will be even more potent if they include reviews and social engagements from your customers and while journalists like to get an exclusive scoop, they also want to give a fresh take on something that others are writing about. That’s the perfect prescription for a highly personalized pitch.
Shared: The opportunities to share and repurpose your media mentions over social networks are virtually endless. With the right approach, you’ll generate more engagement and thus, more useful user-generated content. Be sure to play the long game and re-purpose your content to keep it evergreen.
Every media mention is like a nugget of gold. Don’t pat yourself on the back and wait for the next one to roll in. Instead, boost every one through every channel to amplify the voices your buyers trust the most.
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