May 2 2017

Earned Media: Why and How to Market Third Party Credibility

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Content marketing is attracting significant buzz at PR and marketing conferences and is the darling of owned and often paid media. Quality of content will range it very high, and when you unite it with likes supplier, you’ll get the winning combination. Yet, the heart of public relations and a solid strategic communications plan is earned media. Why “earned”? Because you can’t buy third party credibility.


Earned media comes in several flavors: an article placement in traditional media (e.g. Washington Post, CNN or CBS Radio), awards and speaking opportunities. While some speakers earn top dollar to keynote a conference, most professionals are invited to deliver a speech or participate on an industry panel to share their expertise – thereby earning credibility from the conference host.

Awards for personal or program accomplishments are earned by professional success as evaluated by your peers or an expert panel. Based on the strength of your narrative and completion of the application requirements, your work is critiqued to determine if it is worthy of recognition and reward.

Having a reporter tell your story brings credibility that you can’t deliver through sponsored content or video that you produced. Often times, media relations results in a single quote in a larger story. Sometimes, it’s a feature story about a product, executive or community investment. In each instance, there’s tremendous value to sharing the article or broadcast report with internal and external stakeholders.

In each case, the outcome of selling your narrative – a speaking gig, an award or an article – brings earned media to your brand. Many have tried to put a price tag on this third party credibility, but it’s difficult to quantify by traditional ROI measures. Therefore, it’s up to you to ensure maximum visibility for the success.

Here are a few common means to ensure the media story, speaking opportunity or award receives attention long-term.

  1. Post to your website with links and photos. Use a pull quote from the article or award citation to highlight the key message.
  2. Include in your email and content marketing campaigns.
  3. Add award badges to your website, presentation materials and collateral.
  4. Share on social media and include photos and video if available. You can also include sample tweets and Facebook posts in a social media toolkit for influencers who can help spread the good word.
  5. Use these earned accolades in paid media if appropriate.
  6. Highlight in your annual report.
  7. Ask influencers to help share the good news (bears repeating).

The best means to ensuring your audience knows about the great media coverage, heralded speech or much-deserved award is to spread the good news. In my agency days, we called this “merchandizing the results.” Today, it’s about using owned media to promote earned media. Paid media services such as Outbrain and Storify should also be considered to maximize visibility.

A well-rounded marketing and communications plan will address earned, owned and paid media. Each has its place in the PR/Marketing mix. Only earned media, however, carries third party credibility.

Note: This article was originally published on

May 22 2013

Nanopunditry: How to Make Your Mark

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A decade ago, many public relations practitioners were struggling to explain to clients the definition of a blog and why interviewing with a blogger, in addition to journalists, was important to build third-party credibility for a company, product or executive.

Today, corporate and executive blogs are commonplace among the nearly 200,000,000 or more blogs vying for readers. Blogging is a proven PR tool to build thought leadership and establish an individual as an issue or industry expert.

During a PRSA-NCC luncheon May 15, marketing expert Geoff Livingston shared his perspective on blogging for thought leadership, a practice he calls being a “nanopundit.”  Not exactly flattering given that nano means “billionth.”

People blog and use social media because it “allows you to circumvent traditional channels,” said Livingston. The challenge to building an audience is to carve your niche and demonstrate your experience.

“Don’t tell people simply what to do or how to do something,” he explained. “Show people through tales of experience and work.”

Livingston, a former journalist, has advised Fortune 500 companies, including AT&T, eBay, Ford and Google, on content marketing and thought leadership. He is also the author of three books on social media and marketing.

“Tip posts are easy,” he continued. “Readers are attracted to your blog when it’s grounded in experience.”

Based on his experiences, Livingston shared five tips to establish thought leadership through blogs or other social media channels.
1) Read a lot. Subscribe to everyone who’s talking about your subject. It forces you out of isolation. When you know what everyone is saying, then you can own the nano niche.

2) Pick channels selectively and do it well. LinkedIn is ideal for B2B. I do Google+ and Twitter. If you do too many social media channels, it will eat you alive. Don’t burn out. Go home and enjoy your life.

3) Lead by example. Do the work. Don’t just talk about it.

4) Lead through service. It makes a difference when people see you giving to the profession or community.

5) Don’t let up once you become nano famous. Don’t let success go to your head.

The PRSA National Capital Chapter is the society’s largest with more than 1,400 members. This luncheon was hosted by the chapter’s 20+ LeaderPack, an exclusive forum for senior level professionals with at least two decades of experience to build relationships, offer support, and jointly address common challenges and concerns.

This post originally appear on PRSA-NCC.

Aug 29 2012

Managing the Informal Generation

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Today’s 20-somethings (aka Millennials or Gen Y) will soon be in middle management and then among the ranks of senior leadership. For those of us minding this generation gap in the workplace today, Millennials offer unique management challenges and opportunities. This group of young employees is not necessarily motivated by the climbing the proverbial corporate ladder or driven by traditional corporate incentives. Where can you find common ground and motivate the talent?

Shira Harrington, president of Purposeful Hire, shared practical insights into engaging the Millennial generation—with particular emphasis on communication, work-life balance, and technology—during PRSA National Capital Chapter’s “20+ LeaderPack” luncheon on July 25.

Millennials recognize that the employer loyalty contract is broken, explained Harrington. “Their ethic is to fit work around business, and they grew up with helicopter parents meaning employer validation is important.”

These attitudes and a more casual approach to communications—lack of punctuation and capitalization in written materials or frequent attention to one’s smart phone for example—highlight significant generational differences in the workplace. Harrington advised seeking mutual understanding to resolve differences. Her tips include:
• Ban cell phones from meetings to help ensure the full attention of all participants.
• Be a mentor. Help younger staff develop strategic communications skills and the value of social media as a formal channel for interacting with key audiences.
• Learn what motivates the “fast pace” of Gen Y and leverage their interests and abilities for optimal performance in the work place.

With nearly 80 million Millennials, it’s essential for older generations to develop an understanding of and appreciation for this cohort of leaders.

PRSA-NCC’s “20+ LeaderPack” is an exclusive forum for senior level professionals with at least two decades of experience to build relationships, offer support, and jointly address common challenges and concerns. “20+ LeaderPack” offers facilitated discussions that tap into the collective wisdom of the Washington area’s top PR professionals.

This post originally appeared on PRSA-NCC.

Mar 9 2011

“Your Fired”

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The following post appeared in the Capitol Communicator, March 8.

Donald Trump’s foray into reality TV has made “you’re fired” an engaging melodrama. But in real life, that’s a very challenging pronouncement.

The recent firing of Kurt Bardella, deputy communications director for the House Committee on Government Oversight, is instructive to all public relations professionals.  From the most junior practitioner to the most experienced executive, we are reminded that we can only be successful if we are credible.

And what is credibility?  At its core, credibility is trustworthiness.  Are you a believable source?  Are you timely and responsive?  Are you honest – when sharing facts and insight – and do you have approval to do so?

For Mr. Bardella, his reputation took a significant hit after Politico reported that he might have inappropriately shared correspondence with a New York Times reporter for a book project – perhaps BCC’ing the NYT contact on emails with other reporters. We will never know specifically the nature of the information, but the Congressional office investigated and concluded his conduct was inappropriate. It was also unprofessional and unethical.

Once Bardella was dismissed from his position, his reputation was permanently damaged.  While I expect that he will, in time, recover from this personal crisis, it will forever be part of his professional history – and Google search results.

Please note, that I do not wish Bardella ill will.  I believe that he will able to demonstrate to future employers that he has learned from his mistakes, which will make him a better practitioner.

What can we learn?  Here’s a refresher on establishing and maintaining credibility.

1)    Honesty is the most important principle of our practice.  Provide information that has been approved for dissemination.  If you can’t disclose facts, say so. Provide a timeline, if you can, for when such information can be made available.

2)    Relationship building isn’t a quid pro quo.  Providing confidential information or sharing information without the owner’s knowledge to curry favor with a journalist isn’t a constructive way to establish a relationship with a journalist. Take time to learn what the journalist needs and be responsive when she calls.

3)    Trustworthiness is essential to provide counsel to senior leadership.  Once you lose the trust and confidence of an executive, you will have a difficult time doing your job effectively.

4)    Follow the PRSA Code of Ethics, which includes among its values the protection of the free flow of information and privacy.

Credibility is an essential part of professional development and advancement. With it, you are a trusted advisor and source. Without it, you risk the pronouncement – “you’re fired.”

Jul 16 2010

#Antenna_Gate: First Tweet

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#Apple #Antenna_Gate response was defensive PR. Heed the lessons of #Icarus #FanBoy is insulting