For many digital creators establishing social proof for themselves or their brands is a top priority. Whether blogging, podcasting, creating video content, or a mixture of them all, you want to be seen as a thought leader and subject matter expert in your given field. With niche-specific creators like those centered around personal finance, the most effective way to establish authority online is by securing media placements. It’s important to note however that not all media placements are created equally. Additionally, some media placements can actually do more to hurt your credibility than to build it.
Early determination of your goals related to acquiring media placements is important in building a social proof strategy. Are you looking to establish brand awareness around a particular type of advice you offer or expertise you have? Are you trying to grow your email list or direct sales traffic to your particular product or service? Are you looking to leverage your credibility to get more media placements? These are all questions you as a creator can ask yourself if you are starting from zero and looking to land media placements. And although the fundamentals for building that social proof will likely seem similar, the choices you make around the strategy you employ can be vastly different depending on your end goals.
What Is A Media Placement?
How we define media placements can vary greatly depending on who you are speaking to and what their end goals are. Media placements can range from quotes or full features in large publications like Forbes and Business Insider, guest appearances on popular podcasts, or even syndicated radio and television shows. These are all examples of what is referred to as earned media. Many times in order to gain earned media you have to have demonstrated some level of expertise in a particular category or field. Authors, bloggers, and licensed or certificated professionals, can all be leveraged in earned media placements if their background and expertise are a fit for the particular media outlet they’re looking for placement in. For someone starting with no previous media history good places to start getting free media traffic include:
- Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
HARO is a popular resource with many starting out because of the targeted and specific nature of the requests. Inquiries usually will require a specific background or focus, a framework for responding (i.e. 1-2 sentences or a full paragraph), a question, and directions for referencing your work. If selected your quote will be mentioned in the publication with proper attribution to you and your website. This becomes a great way to show off your expertise by adding the publication’s logo to your website or social media and mentioning that you were “seen in” that specific publication. Downsides to this strategy include not being able to choose the particular publication you’re quoted in and the volume of responses the inquiry may generate. Using HARO as a strategy is definitely a numbers game that requires prompt and frequent responses. The more you respond the more chances you have of being selected. This strategy can be discouraging with the amount of upfront effort required but it’s a surefire way to build a foundation.
Twitter and LinkedIn are also unrated media gold mines as they are the primary platforms where editors of publications, podcasters, and producers hang out. You also aren’t competing with a very restrictive algorithm. Many writers/editors will use the hashtag #journorequest which you can filter by the latest post and you can respond to the tweet directly or however the writer directs you. This is also an opportunity to start building a relationship with the writer by following and responding to their content. If they view you as a thought leader or subject matter expert they will more readily reach out to you for your quotes or comments on stories they are writing. As you build your social proof opportunities to showcase your platform will eventually come to you. Podcast hosts especially love to showcase the accomplishments of their guests and will often give you an opportunity to plug your product or service at the end of an episode. You can use the number of podcasts you’ve been on or reference notable ones when pitching publications to demonstrate your credibility as well.
Leveraging Large Publications
Perhaps you want to focus your media strategy wholly on long-form content via writing for publications. Leveraging this strategy is the best way to establish thought leadership because rather than having someone talk about and promote you, you can write about your topic as an expert and tap into the publication’s built-in audience. Publications now more than ever do their due diligence into the claims of contributors especially those related to income and industry. Editors of particular verticals are the gatekeepers for publications. That means that financial creators will want to pitch editors content related to their specific niche or area of expertise. As a contributor, it’s important to remember that your job is to share thought leadership not promote your products or services. It’s through the sharing of your expertise that potential clients will seek you out and want to learn more about you. Publication editors will want to see that you’ve established yourself as a writer with previous writing samples, new ideas related to the vertical, and credibility that makes you the right person for the job. All of this information should be included in your pitch.
Earned Media vs Paid Media
Paid media has its place in a media strategy but is often used incorrectly or to the detriment of those looking to establish credibility. If you’ve ever been approached by someone asking you to pay a fee to be “featured” in your dream publication this may be an example of paid media being used incorrectly. Many times those opportunities are tied into a press release or publishing in the classified ads section of a publication. These are not held to the same editorial guidelines as organic or earned media and therefore don’t have the same weight or impact. Some creators are willing to roll the dice on this strategy however because they can indeed say they were “featured” in a large publication or have their business, product, or service reach thousands of eyes that otherwise wouldn’t have known about it.
This strategy however can negatively impact your credibility and social proof in some circles as the tactics are known and documented in the industry and can be recognized by publications and thought leaders when looking for additional opportunities to gain earned media or even go for social media verification. That said, press releases and platform advertising via paid ads can be used effectively in creating awareness, selling a product or service, or celebrating accomplishments, and is a powerful combo when coupled with earned media from a large platform like a podcast or publication.
Preparing For The Long Game
Getting media placements can be a daunting process if you approach it unprepared and uninformed. It can leave you feeling frustrated and disenchanted especially if you pay for placements that yield no results. Many new creators simply jump into a niche with the expectations that things will take off for them because they’ve chosen to be there. Even the most credentialed of creators can run into a wall with media if they don’t have a properly crafted media strategy. Understanding that it’s a long game that builds on itself is key to media success and one day you might even be on TV!