Marketing fads come and go, but earned media never goes out of style.
Earned media refers to people or organizations featuring you and/or your business. Earned media can include testimonials, online reviews, and posts being shared. But one form of earned media continues to be especially powerful: PR.
When your brand gets featured in household-name publications, you appear more credible and trustworthy. And when you get featured or interviewed by industry experts and leading companies, you give yourself an opportunity to be endorsed, directly in front of your exact target audience.
The pursuit of additional positive earned media—and messaging to mitigate negative press—is known as public relations, or PR. If you want to explore getting press for yourself, here’s what to know.
Table of Contents
What Do Public Relations and Media Relations Really Mean?
Public relations gets confusing because it can mean different things to different people.
For some key stakeholders, PR might refer to writing press releases. For others, It’s more about social media marketing. And for others still, an entire public relations team might be dedicated to crisis management, PR campaigns, working with government officials, or spearheading investor relations.
Generally, PR is about proactively communicating with editors, producers, marketing managers, or journalists to attract more media attention. For larger companies that are already in the news all the time, it might be more about managing a business’s reputation, ensuring that media outlets have the most up-to-date information about personnel, financial reports, or product features.
Why Media Coverage Is Valuable
News outlets have spent years, decades, or even centuries developing their reputation. Since they attract large and/or engaged viewerships, many media companies often have huge amounts of website traffic.
These outlets have limited space. Not everyone can have a feature in a magazine, be on TV, or be the guest on a podcast episode. As such, being featured is considered notable, and can help buoy a company’s reputation.
Media can often lead to more media. This national TV spot I did came about as a result of a guest post I wrote for FORTUNE... eight months prior.
The Long Game of Media Credibility
Many people think the most valuable attribute of getting featured in press is the number of users who will see you. This isn’t true. Traffic from media hits can be very volatile, and this isn’t a metric you can control.
What is valuable, however, is to show future followers and subscribers who’ve just discovered you your past work. One of the best ways to do this is with a “media banner.” You’ve seen these banners before; these are the “as seen in” logos you see on websites, or the “So-and-so has written for…” sentences in someone’s bio.
Is it name-dropping? Technically, yes. But you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. If you’ve landed these credibility markers, you should flex them early on in the user journey to establish yourself as a trustworthy source.
A screenshot of my website's home page. Some of these logos are from placements I earned several years ago, but they still project credibility.
10 Ways to Land More PR In Business Efforts
No. 1: Nourish Mutually Beneficial Relationships.
PR tactics don’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, developing win/win relationships with others in your network is more than enough to get things up and running.
You never know when a valuable referral opportunity might arise. Last year, a relationship I built with an LGBTQ+ advertising community created an opportunity to write about a forthcoming survey. I got to debut that data in an article for FORTUNE magazine, and that article later led to being called for two national television interviews.
Be in the business of relationships and you’ll see more media and partnership opportunities come your way.
No. 2: Explore Doing Speaking Engagements.
A speaking engagement or webinar might be for a small room of attendees, but it’s still a great way to work on your public speaking skills. Moreover, guest speaking opportunities position you as an expert.
Since speaking commitments often give you time to expand on who you are and what you do, they can be an excellent way to expand your network. Speaking also generally builds mutually beneficial relationships.
If you have a speaking opportunity, see if you can get it filmed. This video content can be helpful when pitching media coverage in the form of live broadcast opportunities.
No. 3: Hire a Public Relations Specialist.
If all this sounds like work, and you’ve got a budget, you might just want to go ahead and hire a publicist or PR agency instead. Most small businesses and individuals don’t need a publicist year-round, but you might consider hiring someone in the following situations:
- You’re launching the business and want to build buzz for opening day, whether that be offline or online.
- You’re publishing a book, documentary, or other passion project.
- Your area of expertise has become increasingly popular in mainstream media.
Publicists have their own PR tools and platforms, which can be helpful for community relations and finding the right people to pitch. However, they’re often expensive.
If your business is doing less than a million dollars a year in revenue, those marketing dollars would be better spent investing in other core areas of your marketing.