A startup CEO was telling me a tragic story. His PR firm had scored him an incredible earned media opportunity but hadn’t solidified his messaging, mission, vision, or even brand optics first. The result was a fascinating interview for the media and zero engagement from the audience.
For founders, it’s an easy mistake but an understandable one. Founders often suffer from founder-baby bias similar to a new parent that believes their baby is the most beautiful baby in the world, but the PR company should be embarrassed. It’s a foolish mistake.
While it’s certainly valid to build an individual brand using great PR hits, the most significant benefit of an interview is connecting to new customers. Various print, radio, podcasts, YouTube, and TV networks have established trust with their audience. Trust to that degree isn’t built overnight. By even interviewing your brand in a non-combative format is an endorsement of you and your brand. Trust transfers and trust is everything.
You can take out ads until you’re blue in the face, but ads don’t come with trust—consumers know you paid for them. If you’re the only gig in town and hit someone when they need your help, Twitter or Facebook ads for example, can be effective. But overall digital advertisements have an engagement rate of 0.5%, meaning you need to throw a lot of money at them to work.
Trust channels convert easier but only if you tighten your messaging.
Earned media without mission/vision is bad
The single most important thing you need to do before an earned media opportunity is to tighten up your mission, vision, brand, and messaging. You need to know your elevator pitch. You need to know how to communicate what you do. You need to have a perfect understanding of your audience and how to immediately connect with them.
If you’ve been given a media interview opportunity, you are in a position where trust transfers. If you can’t communicate, the entire opportunity was a waste of your time at best and damaging at worse.
Damaging? You bet.
Not understanding your messaging is damaging
If you received an earned media opportunity and are given the trust of the audience, not understanding your overall messaging, mission and vision will actually train the audience to ignore you. If they like you and listen to you, and you can’t communicate what you do or why they need you what happens? They categorize you as “not for me.” That’s bad.
What it means, is even if you tighten your message later, your target audience has already written you off. They already know you’re not a good fit.
When was the last time you gave a brand a second look? If you did, I’m guessing it was because a friend told you something about the brand that surprised you a bit. How often do you think that happens? Not often.
If your messaging, mission, and vision aren’t done. Complete them today before your advertising or earned media campaigns or you very well could be paying people to ignore you forever.