5 Tips For PR Pros Too Busy To Write

pr writing

 

A top public relations agency is a busy, demanding workplace. The day-to-day schedule can include a number of discussions with clients or new business prospects, proactive pitching to media and fielding follow-up questions, managing projects with vendors, overseeing media monitoring and anticipating possible impact for clients, and more. And that’s just the morning!

Clearly it can be challenging to find the focused time for longer pieces of writing. Yet quality writing is vital in PR. Written content says much about a company or brand’s value proposition in a competitive market, and strong writing skills remain a top desired quality for PR talent. Op-ed and contributed pieces must have a fresh, convincing message that provides real  value. Press releases must be clear, informative, and void of double speak lest they become meaningless or mocked. 

Challenging though it is, there are ways to balance hectic schedules with creating space for good writing. Here are some tips.

Keep an ongoing “notes file.” Much of the different aspects of PR work bleed into one another, and certainly everything feeds into written content. For example, monitoring a media interview with an exec can be a gold mine for developing new material for bylines or op-eds or an upcoming speech. Be sure to take notes. Use whatever organization system works for you — some swear by Google docs, others prefer a cloud-based file storage, and some still love paper and file folders — but be sure to keep them in a “writing” file. Organize by topic, so you know exactly where to reach for source material when it’s time to write content.

Tackle longer writing assignments in pieces. If you’re pressed for time and the thought of cranking out 750 words is a bit daunting, start by setting aside just 15 minutes. Set a timer and write as much as you can within that time. Knowing you have a limited time to spend on writing helps relieve anxiety about shirking other tasks. Everyone can find 15 minutes in a day, right? It’s the equivalent of a coffee run, a catch-up chat with a colleague, or an unplanned call from a client. String together a few 15-minute sessions and soon you have a critical mass of writing to work with, which is a huge step forward.

Be smart about timing.  This could mean getting in 15 minutes earlier or staying 15 minutes later to have some uninterrupted time devoted to writing. If the mornings are when you think best, tackle writing tasks then. We all have different times of day when we’re at our best, the key is to choose the time well.

Know edits will follow. Don’t let quibbles over punctuation or word choice get in the way of getting content down for a first draft. Write the first pass knowing it’ll be cleaned up and sharpened later. Use placeholders (like X’s or jibberish) if you don’t have precise numbers and facts handy. The point is to keep the flow going until you have something solid to work with.

Don’t procrastinate. This is probably the hardest. The tyranny of urgent business always seems to outweigh more labor intensive, thoughtful work. But putting off a writing task because you don’t think you have the time only makes the task seem bigger in your mind than it really is — and that leads to more dread, and more procrastination. The snowball effect is a recipe for disaster. Commit to the writing — like an exercise regimen! — until it becomes habit. 

10 PR Commandments For Startups

For a technology startup company, good public relations can go a long way. But when and how to execute a strategic PR program can vary with the individual business.  Principals of early early-stage companies don’t always recognize how to deploy PR to maximum effect.

The most critical decision isn’t whether to hire a PR agency or an in-house director.  It’s more about a sustained commitment to telling your story to the people who count.  Here are rules for startups to know when it comes to deploying strategic public relations.

Ten PR Rules for Startups

Don’t drink your own Kool-Aid.  It’s tough to be objective as a founder, but unvarnished feedback is gold. As entrepreneur-turned-VC Mark Suster puts it, “Save Your Spin For Someone Who Cares.”  A good PR agency should offer honest advice instead of telling you what you want to hear. But the source of unbiased advice can also be a Board member, investor, or qualified friend.

Begin with the end in mind.  This is a Stephen Covey maxim that applies to almost any business practice, but it’s particularly relevant to PR. Start with very specific goals, including identification of critical audiences. If fundraising is a priority, stick to tactics and media outlets and events that reach VCs and analyst companies and forget about customer acquisition. The broader the target audience, the larger the budget (and the more experience required by the team executing the program.)

Hold your powder. Until the time is right. Some startups make the mistake of meeting with high-level tech publications or giving local media interviews before they’re ready. It’s never a good idea to let a good story leak out to small or local media. Even worse, a premature article can generate coverage that deters larger outlets, or that contains inaccurate details. An incorrect post lives forever. We often spend valuable time in a new engagement correcting facts based on careless or half-baked media interviews. It pays to wait until the strategy is in place and the product is perfect.

Build in lead time. Even after you’re ready. Top journalists rarely drop everything for a story unless the company is already a name brand. Allow 1-2 months for the PR team to finalize the messaging and shop the story before a website goes live or a product is launched. You only have one chance to launch the company (or announce funding), so the story must be bulletproof.

Lock down the message.  That time should be spent crafting the elevator speech.  Is it clear? Compelling?  Instantly understandable?  Ideally, it stands alone instead of depending on another brand (“a Tinder for pets” or a “Slack for creatives”).  Think problem-solution and pare the message down to its core. Dig deep and be rigorous. Avoid buzzwords, empty adjectives, or long-winded word salads that obscure impact. 

Commit real time to PR.  It’s not a magic bullet, and it’s rarely quick. Give it six months to start, then assess outcomes versus goals.  PR doesn’t work like direct-marketing or PPC advertising. It is about building relationships and careful positioning of a company story, which takes time, skill, and focus.

Make someone accountable. Like anything else, the public relations program should be the responsibility of someone within the organization―preferably not a founder―who manages the effort and any agencies or consultants involved. Startups sometimes fail to realize that there is a time commitment on their side, and the greater the commitment, the higher the odds of success.

Forget press releases.  They’re boring and media know it. It’s more effective to place news tidbits or exclusive announcements with key reporters at tech or business publications than it is to create long-winded press releases or pay for newswire distribution at thousands of dollars a pop.

Offer substance. Don’t rely on “soft” news. Some startups think their culture is the story―or the colorful personality of the founder. But journalists who cover early-stage businesses have heard it all.  They’re looking for substance―a new category, an upstart challenger to a larger competitor, or a technology innovation. The puff pieces about office mascots or Stanford dropouts are the exceptions.

But don’t oversell.  Instead, tell.  The best way to generate positive coverage for a startup is to tell a great story. That’s not always easy, but it’s where the magic comes in.

What PR Can Do – And What It Can’t

Brand marketers often look to public relations to accomplish a great deal of “heavy lifting” in terms of creating awareness. When done well, a strategic PR program is good at achieving certain objectives while other disciplines fit different needs.
PR is most effective at:

Packaging a company’s story to resonate with reporters

The seasoned PR team knows how to reach media with a pitch that lets them know this subject matter will interest their audience, without reading like an ad.

Augmenting a sales and marketing effort

A good PR campaign is informed by and reflects messaging from marketing efforts but should never supplant those efforts. Look at the campaigns as complementary. For more on that subject, revisit this post from our Impressions blog.

Helping shape an image for a key executive

An exec I worked with once told me he didn’t exist until he saw his name in print. Good public relations takes an exec’s POV and character traits and introduces them to the world through a combination of personality profiles, owned content, a social media presence and speaking gigs.

Making news during “quiet periods”

Every company has downtime between new product and other  announcements. It is PR’s job to fill the space with “constant content” such as byline articles, lifestyle surveys, white papers and blog posts.

What PR does not do well

Substituting for advertising

When a company wants to control the content of the message, the amount of space or airtime and the frequency of the message, they choose advertising. When they want to achieve third-party, unbiased editorial coverage, (that can’t be bought) they seek PR.

Overcoming a bad product or faulty design

All the excellent PR strategy and close personal media contacts can’t solve the problem of a product or design that just doesn’t cut it.

Operating in a vacuum

PR output is as good as the input. We need to have ongoing conversations ideally up and down the organization about everything going on in a company’s business to be able to develop timely and creative story angles and effective bylines.

Guaranteeing outcomes

The final outcomes of any media relations effort are never 100% predictable. What the best PR pros can guarantee is 100+% effort to generate positive coverage, along with reasonable expectations based on a number of factors. And setting reasonable expectations is something the best PR teams always do.

How To Win A PR War (Hubspot vs Dan Lyons)

Disrupted

Marketing software company Hubspot’s recent struggle with writer Dan Lyons is instructive for anyone embroiled in a public relations war about reputation. The brouhaha wasn’t as public as some such battles – largely because Hubspot isn’t a consumer company  — but it made the rounds in technology circles faster than new malware and probably caused at least as much grief.

It also offers some learnings for communicators.

To recap, Lyons is a 52-year-old technology writer known for the Fake Steve Jobs blog and his work at Newsweek. After he became a casualty of the magazine’s decline three years ago, Lyons did something a little unusual for a middle-aged journalist. He joined a tech startup.

His stint at Hubspot didn’t last very long, but it produced a terrific book about the experience, Disrupted: My Misadventure in The Startup Bubble, a scathing takedown of startup culture. In the words of ex-New York Times writer Nick Bilton, the book shows “how ridiculous, wasteful, and infantile tech start-ups like this can be.”

Ouch. In defending its reputation, Hubspot did many things right, as outlined below. But at least one Hubspotter did something colossally dumb in advance of the book’s publication. According to records released by the FBI in response to a FOIA request, one or more Hubspot executives tried to use extortion to gain access to the book before it was published, and to derail its publication. The ultimate result was the departure of two key executives, a fine for the CEO and a huge black eye for Hubspot. Not to mention the ultimate PR gift for Lyons and his book.

So when the book hit (initially through an excerpt in Fortune), there was plenty of interest. Here’s my take on what to do – or not – if your reputation is threatened by a credible critic.

Defend yourself. And do it quickly and respectfully. After the book’s publication Hubspot CTO Dharmesh Shah posted a response on LinkedIn that was humble to a fault and (mostly) transparent. It defends the Hubspot culture, language, and business practices while acknowledging mistakes. Importantly, Shah invokes third-party data and sources when pointing out Hubspot’s reputation as a good place to work and explains internal communications quirks.

If anything, the post is almost too detailed in cataloging and admitting flaws, with one exception. And it errs by treating more trivial criticisms (like saying people “graduate” when fired) alongside far harsher challenges to its core business (that “inbound marketing” is really just glorified spam.)

Take the high road. Shah’s response to the controversy was a model of restraint when it comes to tone. But he also acknowledged the most substantive point in Lyons’ recounting of his experience, which is the tech industry’s stunning lack of diversity. That was a good start. But only a start.

Empower advocates to help. Letting friends and clients help fight your battles is a time-honored way to defend against public criticism, and some of those attempts were successful. Case in point: David Meerman Scott’s review of the book, which gently mocked Lyons’s tone and weighed in from Scott’s own very positive experience as a Hubspot partner. Fair enough.

But don’t overreact. Other responses weren’t so controlled. One former Hubspot contractor posted an indignant rebuttal, headlined Working For This Startup Isn’t Hell — You’re Just Old.  Strictly speaking, the post was from an advocate, not the company, but the “old” insult isn’t helpful, particularly given the one charge in the book most likely to stick: that Hubspot’s culture, like much of the tech industry, is blithely ageist.

Be transparent. Perhaps the company can’t be blamed for the behavior of a single executive (or two) but Hubspot has never addressed the FBI investigation. There may be legal reasons not to disclose details, but its utter absence from the LinkedIn response is like a giant elephant in the room. What does such blatantly unethical behavior say about Hubspot’s business culture? At the very least the company should acknowledge that the executives are gone because it won’t tolerate dirty dealing.

Fix the problem. I loved the book, but much of the criticism is about style, and some is even shallow. It’s easy to satirize the startup scene – with its company jargon, acronyms, founder-worship, and general “drink the Kool-Aid” culture. But the charge that’s definitely not shallow is about tech’s diversity problem. If Hubspot sincerely wants to rise above the reputation challenge issued in Lyons’ book, it will take more concrete and measurable steps to build a more inclusive workplace environment, instead of just a fun and spirited one.

Shooting Down Misconceptions About B2B PR

Working in B2B public relations probably isn’t what idealistic young people dream about, but that doesn’t mean misconceptions about it are true. B2B PR has endured as a successful part of many a company’s growth strategy, and it can be an exciting field for PR professionals. Here are some of the misconceptions that shouldn’t hold anyone back who might be thinking of it as a career.

Lesser known doesn’t mean less impact. If B2B is your game, you know you’re not speaking to the public at large in the same way a mass-market brand would. B2B PR pros strategically work with the publications and influencers who make a difference for their companies — regardless of how well known they might be to the general public. For example, few people outside the industry would be familiar with a publication like Convenience Store News, but scoring a placement there can be a big win if your target includes customers in the $700 billion convenience store sector.

B2B doesn’t have to be dull! We’ve touched on this topic before, but it’s worth repeating. Some may yawn, but we’ve had fun and fascinating experiences working on B2B campaigns: We’ve set up on-site media briefings with company execs ahead of a product launch that included Olympic snowboard champion Shaun White followed by a performance by the Alabama Shakes and Snoop Dogg; we’ve placed stories in top tier media with a tie-in to a key NFL player in the Super Bowl ahead of the big game; and we parlayed the drama of this year’s Presidential election into some generous news coverage for a B2B client by conducting an original survey. With a little creative thinking and connecting the dots, B2B programs can have the same flair as the sexiest of consumer brands.

Embrace, don’t ignore, creative content. Some 60 percent of B2B customers ultimately make decisions based on some type of content they’ve encountered in the sales funnel process, so it behooves PR practitioners to take advantage of this trend. In today’s content-driven marketing world, PR teams must inform and own creative content for B2B programs to help drive business success. 

B2B is about people as much as products and companies. There are passionate, funny, intelligent people working in B2B marketing – and they’re humble. Especially as media spokespeople — trade journalists will thank you, and it might drive more, better, and deeper coverage for the brand. For an advertising technology client, one exec speaks about technology with such fervor — and such color — that listening to him is like a cross between an inspiring TED talk and a stand up comedy set. Offering him as a spokesperson typically drives more trade media interviews than any other pitch, because of his depth of knowledge and sheer passion. B2B companies are full of such characters — learn to identify them, media train them, and use them well.

Social media is just as important, if not more, than in B2C. In fact, because the audience segment is harrow, the “advocacy impact” of each B2B customer is amplified. A recent study showed 86 percent of B2B technology buyer used social media in their purchase decision process. A robust social media campaign – going beyond just LinkedIn and Facebook — is something that can’t be ignored.

Managing The Risks Of Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing programs are a godsend for PR agencies and others who look to combine the third-party endorsement of earned media with the credibility of word-of-mouth marketing. But any influencer marketing opportunity comes with risks and caveats, as recent news suggests.

Compliance.  Lord & Taylor recently settled charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission for running afoul of disclosure rules for a social media campaign on Instagram. To debut its Design Lab collection, the store arranged for 50 top Instagrammers to wear a specific dress on the same day. The results were gorgeous, and the dress quickly sold out. It even generated positive coverage in marketing media. Problem was, none of the influential fashionistas disclosed that they were being paid by the store.

Something similar happened with YouTube video gaming network Machinima, which was involved in the promotion of X-Box in 2013. Machinima failed to disclose its payment arrangements for the video reviewers who uploaded as many as 300 positive posts about X-Box and were compensated at a rate of $1 per view…ka-ching! It settled with the FTC and in this case the (presumed) ultimate advertiser, Microsoft, was not found culpable.

Obviously the agency intended to send a message, and the incidents are a warning for any PR or marketing people who don’t take FTC enforcement seriously.

Fit. It goes without saying that the partnership needs to be a fit, both in terms of expertise as well as demographics. We’ve used different types of personal finance experts for a credit union with “traditional” members and a money-saving app geared to the mobile millennial set, naturally. And this is where Lord & Taylor got it right. The personalities it chose may not have been household names, but they were fashion-savvy social media users with quality followings.

Overexposure. Brands crave “safe” endorsements or relationships, with good reason. Yet engaging someone at the peak of their popularity poses other risks, simply because many of the “top” personalities like Bethany Mota or Kylie Jenner are overexposed. Multiple endorsements can confuse an audience, and, worse, one-off engagements like sponsored tweets or event appearances aren’t strong enough to build a solid connection with a brand.
Often a brand needs to choose between individuals with high levels of trust, and those with enormous reach. It’s difficult to get both, which is why we often counsel clients to consider “citizen influencers” who may lack household name status but who boast legitimate social networks with strong ties and time-earned expertise. Onalytica talks about the “power middle” layer of Tier 2 influencers, who are often easier to work with than Tier 1 personalities and can offer a way to scale cost-effectively. (see below)

Scaleability.  Scaling an influencer program is probably the biggest hurdle for marketers. How do you manage multiple recommenders across social platforms as diverse as LinkedIn and SnapChat? And how does a brand afford the fees and measurement costs associated with a broad international campaign? For our clients, the answers seem to lie in 1) access to cutting-edge tools for tracking and measurement; 2) the right mix of paid and unpaid media, with influencer marketing often replacing traditional paid advertising; and 3) a mix of tier-one and lesser-known personalities as outlined above. Forrester’s report on the latest word-of-mouth platforms that harness technology to scale and measure influencer programs is useful for some of the recent tools it cites.

Intellectual Property. A social influencer will often use a product photo, trademarked brand or corporate logo, or product photos in the content they generate. Brands and organizations need to anticipate use cases and ensure that logos and photos aren’t modified or misused – the last thing you want is a gif or meme where a branded product is the butt of a joke. On the flipside, a company may want permission to use influencer-generated content in its marketing. The point is that everything must be memorialized in a legal agreement.

Let’s face it, at some level, nearly every influence program falls short of 100% authenticity, and today’s consumers are savvy. A well orchestrated influencer marketing program can fill the gap between “straight” PR, paid advertising, and word-of-mouth, with some of the advantages of each. But like any PR or marketing program, it’s all in the execution.

8 Podcasts PR People Should Know

Public relations pros tend to love podcasts, and we’re no exception! Once an under-the-radar media form that blended the old school (radio) with the new (digital distribution), podcasts have certainly come into their own. We love them for obvious reasons: many are incredibly informative, taking the time to thoroughly explain an important topic, and how it affects and changes our world. We listen to learn, understand, and be able to better serve our clients in diverse industries, from technology and design, to food and beverage, and 3D printing.

But more than that, the podcasts we love are simply riveting. We appreciate the brilliance of simple storytelling, and draw lessons on how the best podcasts employ drama, suspense, surprise, and curiosity to tell stories. We also love listening to expert interviewers, how they question and probe (or not) to draw out the best responses from subjects. These observations inform the work we do as professional communicators and media relations specialists, making podcasts a must-listen in our minds.

Here are our top picks for podcasts PR people should be listening to.

Note To Self (formerly New Tech City). As a tech PR firm in New York City, “the tech show about being human” is an obvious pick. It’s easy to get so caught up in breaking technology news and lose sight of the bigger picture. Note To Self helps us take a step back and analyze the impact technology is having on us — which gives us the perspective we need to keep things fresh and new.

Taking Stock. This interview format show from Bloomberg is essential for those wanting to understand what makes markets tick. The top minds of Wall Street dish on the latest business news, providing instant insights for the PR pro needing to become well versed in the nuances of the global business world.

Startup. Our team often works with technology startups, and this podcast is a window into the world of what it’s really like to get a business off the ground. Alex Blumberg, a veteran of the podcast world, keeps the stories expertly informative and entertaining at the same time.

Nerdist. We love host Chris Hardwick for being a nerd long before it was considered cool. Among the many ventures of this stand-up comedian and media personality, Nerdist keeps us up to date on pop culture  happenings with its celebrity interviews, which is, of course, a must for PR.

Reply All. Another podcast from Blumberg’s Gimlet Media, this one is “a show about the internet,” a topic so ubiquitous we take it for granted. The show reminds us of how technology influences our lives, often in ways we can personally relate to.

99 Percent Invisible. This podcast about “the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world” is especially informative when you work with companies that are spearheading innovation in technology and design.

Death, Sex and Money. An irresistible listen to personal stories about topics we all wonder about, but rarely discuss. Helpful for its narrative storytelling form, and to keep us curious and thinking.

Fresh Air. An oldie and a classic. Fresh Air started as an interview format radio show in 1987, hosted by Terry Gross, one of the most skilled interviewers around. The Peabody Award-wining daily covers everything from politics to the arts and culture. Gross never fails to unearth details and angles not heard anywhere else. If you’ve fallen behind on keeping up with media, listen to a week’s worth of Fresh Air podcasts, and you’ll quickly have a handle on happenings in the world.

How PR Can Treat Every Company Like a Start-Up

Once an established company decides to engage in public relations activities, the decision presents some wonderful opportunities to burnish, refresh and create anew – much like what a start-up does as it enters the marketplace. Here are some ways that strategic PR planning can help leaders regain that “new company smell.”

Re-examine the mission. We have often seen a company begin with one mission only to shift subtly or dramatically after a stint in the marketplace. For example, a medical device client launched with a heavy b2b focus for their products and services, only to migrate a year or so later to a more consumer-oriented positioning. Pivots like these require companies to educate their staffs and partners to make sure everyone reads from the same script. What often works well is a company retreat or other “off-campus” brainstorming to reassess and shift gears to align internally and agree on a strategy for external communications.

Get me rewrite! As a general guideline, companies should update their website, rewrite background materials, down to press release boilerplate, as often as milestones happen within the company, e.g. new products are added, new leaders appointed, or the company marks a key anniversary. However, many companies are guilty of infrequent materials review. Beginning a PR campaign is just the impetus these businesses need to assess all external communications materials and get everything up to speed.

What’s new? Before the PR team begins any outreach to press, the established company needs to align with their marketing calendar to see what news can be announced. As with a start-up, the PR team will be looking for financial announcements, new products on the horizon, important partnerships and other hard news. As well, the team will seek “soft” news, interesting data points, or ways to connect to seasonal topics: state primaries, holidays, etc.

Pleased to meet you, again. In this reassessment phase, a mature company can take a good, hard look at the last time they garnered media attention. If a few years have gone by, it can be a great time to reach out to many of the same press which covered them before, to provide a “look at us now” kind of update piece. There are also opportunities to reach out to all the media who cover a space, but who haven’t ever covered the particular company.

Get a handle on content. Some companies have been out of the limelight long enough to have missed the rise of “thought leadership” as a PR tool to building reputation. But that doesn’t mean said companies haven’t been producing content for other reasons. These speeches, presentations or other materials can have second and third lives as bylined articles, blog posts and white papers. Whenever we begin a PR engagement, we always ask for everything leadership has written so we can cull some very usable content from what already exists.
As the second quarter of 2016 begins, now is an opportune time to think like a “start-up” and get some fresh PR perspective.

There are certain things any company needs to know before working with a PR team — especially tech startups. Download our free tipsheet on the 7 Things Tech Startups Need To Know About Working With PR. 

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6 Ways To Grow Earned Media Results In PR

A well-designed public relations campaign can be an asset to any organization. But sometimes the PR team works hard to generate results, then moves on to the next thing. In order to truly optimize the public relations investment, the publicity placements should work as hard as we do.

Here are some ways to amplify those hard-earned media outcomes.

Promote earned media through paid and direct channels. A positive piece of earned media – an editorial feature or interview published in the editorial press –  offers a degree of credibility that simply can’t be matched by company newsletters or sales materials. If its life can be prolonged, so can the impact. A terrific review, feature, or interview can be marketed affordably through social media channels – think sponsored Tweets, targeted Facebook ads, and even influential industry bloggers.

It’s even easier to drive promotion through direct channels like email marketing, where high-value earned media outcomes can be shared with an existing customer or prospect list, or even marketed to a new list of prospects.

Recycle visibility opportunities and material. A keynote speech at an industry conference is typically a strong opportunity for visibility, as well as a way to get in front of customers. But why stop there? Turn the speech into a slideshare and promote it through social channels. Extract the single greatest insight from the talk and offer it to a key media outlet as an interview, bylined article or white paper. Then, adapt it into a series of blog posts. These techniques help to build momentum while reinforcing relevant messages.

Blog to promote expertise. A company blog post is unlikely to be picked up by a major media outlet, unless the post contains breaking news and the company is a high-profile organization. But a post can still lead to a media story. By creating original content that conveys industry expertise – on the part of a C-level officer, or the brand overall, you can drive up search visibility and generate media inquiries for interviews and other stories. Niche or long-tail topics usually work best. I find that when I blog consistently about PR subtopics or industries I often receive inquiries for comment about those areas when news breaks.

Leverage media for more media. A great story will often elicit more coverage in media outlets that don’t compete directly with the original source. In particular, print and digital coverage often triggers broadcast interest, or a trade feature can “trickle up” to a broader business story. But rather than wait for this to happen organically, it’s best to approach the most influential outlets as quickly as possible. Sometimes the result is a snowball effect of positive coverage.

Go deeper with owned content. Long is the new short! That’s right, in spite of the popularity of shorter, “snackable” content, a thoughtful long-form piece on an influential platform like Medium or LinkedIn is an excellent way to build the kind of visibility and SEO results that attract media coverage.

Be a contributor. Of course you can create your own earned media coverage in a popular outlet. This can’t be a commercial message, and the competition is fierce at the highest levels, but it’s a great way to build credibility, expertise, and visibility all at once. One way to start is to approach a new media outlet, or one that has a niche following. One example: Check out some of the new red-hot digital publications we reviewed recently that reach millennials. Strike while they’re still on the way up and you might parlay a post into a regular contributor gig.