earned media

How to Use Earned Media Coverage to Drive Your Startup’s Sales

Do you believe PR doesn’t work? If so, you might be telling the wrong kinds of stories in the media. You might also be expecting your press coverage to do all the heavy lifting for you. The truth is, you need to be very strategic about your earned media coverage and how you promote it.

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The difference between owned and earned media

First, you might be wondering what “media” we’re actually referring to. Generally, there are two types.

Publicity refers to earned media, which is coverage that you’re getting on a site that you don’t own. For example, if you have a podcast, that is owned media. But if you are a guest on someone else’s podcast, that is considered earned media.

Earned media offers the opportunity to get in front of new people who don’t know about your business yet (and this is the type of media we’ll talk about in the rest of this article). But to drive sales from earned media, you need to be choosy and strategic about where you spend your time.

Let’s dive into exactly how to drive sales from your earned media coverage:

Why many entrepreneurs don’t profit from publicity

There are many reasons why entrepreneurs fail to see any return on investment (ROI) from PR. They might be putting effort into the wrong publications with irrelevant audiences. They might be spending time on outlets that don’t have a huge readership or much engagement. These missteps will certainly sink your PR results.

But there’s another problem that is much less obvious: the stories, topics and expertise you pitch. 

Many entrepreneurs want media coverage so desperately, they pitch random topics that are unrelated to their business’ revenue drivers. They might come up with a great idea and pitch it without ever thinking about whether or not that article or podcast topic will encourage people to learn more about the company’s products or services. 

For example, this Forbes article shares a desired result (making thousands of dollars) and includes five strategies that align with my services. Additionally, in this example, the VC company Backstage Capital, which invests in businesses led by minority and LGBTQ founders, is featured in an article about how Black female founders can get funding, meaning the VC firm will attract more great applicants from its target audience.

How to tell revenue-driving stories

A great content marketing strategy should include every stage of the buying cycle:

  • Top-of-funnel content designed to entertain and engage
  • Middle-of-funnel content designed to help prospects compare and research
  • Bottom-of-funnel content designed to help prospects validate and purchase
  • Customer content designed to retain and upsell customers

For best results, the topics you discuss in the media should be in the middle or the bottom of the funnel. Think about it: Many online publications generate dozens of articles a day. If you’re featured in an article that is a top-of-funnel topic for you, people will read it but not be incentivized to learn more about your business. 

For example, let’s say you are a sales coach. If you’re featured in an article talking about getting leads from Instagram, that’s not going to drive revenue. Writing about getting leads from Instagram could be a good fit for a blog post, a type of owned media coverage, where you can convert readers into email subscribers. But for earned media opportunities, which you don’t have complete control over, the topics should be highly relevant to how you drive revenue. If you’re a sales coach, you might talk about sales call mistakes, sales call confidence or closing techniques

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How to promote your earned media coverage to convert your audience

When you tell a story that is closely related to what drives revenue in your business, you are far more likely to get results from sharing that story. When you promote it, you might experience an immediate increase in leads and sales if the article really does pre-sell your products or services.

Here are some ways to promote publicity coverage that falls in the middle or bottom of your topic funnel:

  • Send out an email blast to leads and subscribers
  • Drive Facebook ad traffic to the article or interview
  • Promote the piece with a platform like Quuu Promote
  • Incentivize your employees to share it 
  • Ask partners and affiliates to share it

Think of all the quick win strategies you can use to get immediate eyes on the piece.

How to nurture leads with publicity

What about the long-term game?

You shouldn’t just let your stories and interviews die off. Instead, you should continue to drive traffic to them. To nurture leads with publicity, you should work the coverage into your email nurture sequences.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of where in the funnel the article or interview will best fit. For example, if it’s an article about how to get ROI from Facebook ads and your company runs Facebook ads as a service, you could include this in an automated nurture sequence triggered by an e-book download or you could send the article manually in a sales follow-up email to a non-responsive lead you want to re-engage.

Publicity absolutely can be a source of leads and sales for your business. You just need to get the right stories out there and include them in your overall nurture strategy.

Originally published June 16, 2021.

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