By Bruce Serbin, owner of Serbin Media, Inc.
Business owners are always looking for ways to stand out from their competitors. Some people like traditional advertising while others turn to Facebook and Twitter, attempting to reach their audience through social media campaigns. While either method can be an effective marketing tool, the traditional media – daily newspapers, local and national television, radio programs and online – offer unparalleled advantages.
While just about any small business owner and entrepreneur can benefit greatly from publicity, some people have the misconception that a publicist is something only celebrities have. The truth is, many average people have a publicist these days – from doctors, dentists and financial advisors to professional speakers, authors and business consultants.
When the stock market takes a dive, how do you think that financial analyst got on CNBC? When American Airlines filed for bankruptcy, how did the networks find an airline consultant to explain the situation? How did that author secure that interview on the morning news? They all had a publicist working behind the scenes making those interviews happen. The person’s qualifications alone might have been necessary, but they weren’t sufficient.
The benefits of being seen in the media are many:
There’s just no better form of credibility than being in the media. Whether it’s a quote in a newspaper or a segment on TV, when the media sees you as an expert, the public will see you as one, too. It’s that silent third-party endorsement that is passed down from the media, and people think if he’s good enough for them, he’s good enough for me.
Advertising lacks credibility because anyone who sees that ad knows you paid for it. It’s something any business owner can do. Social media lacks credibility as well because anyone can post to Facebook or Twitter. But when you’re on the radio or TV, or the local newspaper quotes you as a source, you just can’t beat that kind of credibility.
It’s all about the money.
Savvy business owners are using the power of the media to make money. They know that level of credibility carries so much weight, and they use it to monetize every possible stream of income. One of our clients has earned more than $2 million over the past three years through licensing deals, public seminar ticket sales, coaching fees, speeches, book sales, foreign rights and simply raising his fees. He credits it all to the enormous amount of media exposure he’s had during that time.
One of the biggest mistakes most business owners who engage in a media publicity campaign make is to let it stop after that initial exposure. Being quoted in the paper or interviewed on television is only half the game. It’s how you use that media that makes all the difference. Most business owners believe their product sales would skyrocket if only they could be on TV. The truth? Media coverage doesn’t always lead directly to sales, even at the national level.
Business owners who leverage the media well use those placements in their marketing; on their websites; when being introduced to give a speech; to promote themselves on social media; and as a way to reach out to prospects, former clients and their databases. They also use them to get… well… more media placements! Reporters feel better using someone who their colleagues and competitors have already vetted, so subsequent placements are usually easier than the first. Cumulatively, numerous placements establish the person as a go-to subject matter expert. They also build a strong online reputation. A slick company website high in Google search results is nice; a quote in The Wall Street Journal is a lot nicer.
Be seen as a “thought leader”.
There are “thought leaders” and “thought followers” in business, and when the media turns to someone for insights, that person is seen as a thought leader for her industry. Being a thought leader isn’t always easy, and it won’t always make someone popular, either. It means staying ahead of the rest of the industry, being able to go out on a limb and make a bold prediction, spotting a trend before anyone else and not being afraid to be controversial or to go against conventional wisdom. Lastly it means never playing the middle but taking one side or the other, even if it means not siding with the masses.
Being a thought leader in business is important, and being seen by the media as a thought leader will keep them coming back for more interviews, which translate to more credibility, which equals a bigger bottom line.
If you’re trying to move your business to the next level and standout from the crowd, consider speaking to a publicist. Be wary if he or she makes any guarantees to the kind of coverage he or she can secure. There are no guarantees, but a publicist should be able to give you a pretty good assessment of what real possibilities are based on your field, experience, message and what you have to offer the media.
Bruce Serbin is an award-winning publicist and owner of Serbin Media, Inc. Bruce has placed clients in the national media including: NBC’s Today, Good Morning America, CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, CNBC, The New York Times, USA Today, The Huffington Post and many more. He’s also a speaker, trainer and media coach.