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We all want more exposure because that is the lifeblood of a successful business.
Unfortunately, most people don’t earn anywhere near the exposure they want because they don’t know how and they don’t have a documented process to produce it consistently. They’ll dabble a little here and there, and when they don’t get the results they’re looking for, most will simply throw their hands up in exasperation and exclaim, “I guess this doesn’t work!”
Today, I have both good news and bad news for you on this topic.
The good news is that it does work and you can do it. The bad news is that it will require a lot of work. There is no shortcut. But that’s true of anything worth doing, right?
In this article, I’m going to outline a three-step process that will help you to reliably and consistently build the exposure you need to build the business you deserve.
1. Demonstrate your expertise
People want to hear from experts. That’s why they’re constantly cited in the media. But it’s not enough to simply say you’re an expert. Anyone can do that, and many unqualified people do exactly that every day.
You have to actually demonstrate your expertise by creating original, useful content, which might include articles, case studies, videos, podcasts, or even short social media posts.
It’s important to point out that in order to do this, you have to actually have real expertise in the first place. None of that “fake it till you make it” trash is going to work here. Sure, you might fool some people in the short term, but you’ll eventually get caught and cause long-term, irreparable damage to your brand.
Case in point — a few years ago, I saw a guy who was brand new to the SEO industry posting questions in a particular group of some of the most experienced SEO professionals. His questions were frequent and were consistently followed up with additional questions.
We later found out that he was finding questions that people had asked in other SEO forums, getting the answers from experts in this group, and then returning to the forum to answer those questions as if the answers were his own.
People caught on quickly and because of that, most of the industry sees him as a charlatan. He will never have the opportunity to write for or be featured in any trustworthy industry publications, and without that as a stepping stone, he’s unlikely to earn any other media coverage.
The right way to demonstrate your experience is by creating useful, original content and publishing it through multiple channels. This content can be any format, such as:
Social media posts
The key is that your content should solve a particular problem for your audience. This might include an in-depth tutorial, explaining complicated industry terminology, or outlining a particular strategy or tactic.
Now you might be thinking “But Jeremy, if I publish content that tells people exactly what I know, they won’t need me anymore!”
Yes — some people will use the information you share instead of hiring you for your expertise, but the reality is that most of those types of people would have never hired you in the first place. But legitimate prospects who don’t have time to mess around trying to do everything themselves will be more likely to hire you, and equally as importantly, the media will be more likely to cite you.
In both cases, this is because you have clearly demonstrated your expertise.
2. Build the right relationships
The right relationships can help you earn exposure significantly faster, on a much larger scale, and with less effort.
That’s because they can help a larger audience see your content by sharing it with their audience. After all, you could create the most amazing content in the world, but if no one sees it, it won’t do you any good.
When it comes to creating exposure for your brand, the relationships you’ll want to build could include:
The problem is that most people don’t put the time or effort into building the right relationships, and because of that, their requests and pitches tend to turn people off. The right relationships, however, can help to create more exposure in several ways.
For example, assuming you’ve already built a relationship with some of your industry peers, asking them to share a piece of content or mention something you’re doing is usually a pretty low friction request. This can obviously help you to reach a larger audience, and it comes with the added bonus that some in the media may be following them, creating opportunities for even more exposure.
However, getting exposure from people in some of the other groups I mentioned, such as editors or producers, is typically more difficult for a variety of reasons, but the primary reason is that they’re constantly being pitched.
It is possible to earn exposure from a cold pitch, but this is a skill that most people don’t possess, so it’s rare to achieve that. An effective cold pitch requires the right contact, a tailored, effective message, and a certain degree of finesse, which is why PR professionals invest years honing their skills.
You can get around this by working to build relationships with some of these people before you need them. This means engaging regularly with them on social media, sharing their content, and helping them in other reasonable ways when you can. It’s important that you do not treat this as a transitional relationship.
Yes, this requires a significant investment in time and energy, which means most people won’t do it. It also means that when you do, you will stand out.
But don’t approach it without a plan.
It’s important to build a list of the people you want to build relationships with. This is a critical step because if you’re doing things right, there will likely be too many people to remember off the top of your head, and because of the algorithms on social media, you probably won’t see them in your newsfeed regularly. Especially if they don’t post frequently.
One approach is to build a spreadsheet with links to their various social media profiles so that you can quickly and easily check them and engage with any new content they create. This helps you stay on top of things you might otherwise miss.
Another tactic is to subscribe to their newsletter. This might give you their primary email address, but even if it doesn’t, it will at least give you an email address that they or an assistant check. And if nothing else, it will help you find more opportunities to engage with them because you’ll be notified as soon as they announce that they’re doing something they consider big.
You can also set up Google news alerts for both their name and their company name to get notified when other people or publications mention them. Imagine how powerful it would be if they were mentioned in the media and you were the first one to share it and tag them — maybe even before they knew about it!
The key is to have an effective system in place to ensure you can effectively nurture the relationships you need to create more exposure for your brand without anything slipping through the cracks.
3. Leverage the media
I think it’s safe to assume we all understand the power of the media, especially in today’s always-on, hyper-connected world.
When I talk about media, I’m talking about entities you would expect like national and local news or tier-one publications like Entrepreneur and The Wall Street Journal, as well as entities you might not expect, like trade publications, blogs, and even podcasts. Basically, any relevant entity with an existing audience.
You can leverage the media from two separate perspectives. The first is obviously to increase your exposure. The second, however, maybe even more valuable, which is to bolster your authority.
Let’s talk about the exposure first.
The more of the right people you can get in front of, the more effectively you can grow your business — we all know that. Media comes with a built-in audience, meaning that if you’re featured, you’ll immediately be thrust in front of exponentially more people than you’re reaching right now on your own. The advantages here are obvious.
Now let’s talk about authority.
People are social creatures, and over the years, our brains have evolved to pick up on certain social cues that have served as shortcuts to increase our chances of survival. This is a concept called social proof. When we see that others we trust, trust someone we don’t yet know, we tend to trust that new person more than we might otherwise. That’s why an introduction from a good friend typically creates a bond faster than meeting someone randomly in the street.
Media can play the same role.
The barrier to entry is higher for another entity—whether we’re talking about a small local podcast or a national news network — compared to what you can post on your own website or social media profiles. People understand that these entities are going to vet anyone they mention or feature because their own reputation is on the line. As a result, when someone is mentioned or featured in the media, people will generally assume that person is an expert in the subject being discussed. That implied authority helps to attract more clients and close them more easily.
Think about it like this — you’ve been to the doctor before right? Did you ever argue with the doctor about their recommendations for your health?
Of course not. Because you assumed that since they went through medical school and had to pass the medical board exams, they knew what they were talking about.
But we all know there are tons of unqualified doctors out there. In fact, medical errors are one of the most common causes of death in America, yet we hardly ever even seek a second opinion.
And why is that?
And that’s exactly what the media can create for you.
But getting featured in the media is no small feat because you have to first establish your credibility by demonstrating your expertise, which we’ve already covered, and then pitch with a compelling reason on why someone should feature your brand.
Most people get the latter wrong because they make it all about themselves. They open with stories about how awesome they are and why they want to be featured.
The correct (and infinitely more effective) approach is to reframe your pitch from the perspective of the audience, then the person you’re pitching. Your needs are a distant third place.
The key is to make your pitch relevant, newsworthy, and specific.
For example, let’s say you want to be recognized as an expert in real estate law in Tampa, so you want to get featured in a local news publication. Your pitch might go something like this:
I’m sure you know about the eviction freeze that Governor DeSantis signed during the pandemic, but since it’s about to expire on September 1st, I thought your audience—particularly renters, homeowners, and real estate investors—would want to know what that means for them.
If this is a story you’re considering covering, I’d like to offer my insight as an experienced real estate attorney on how it will potentially affect the people in your audience and how they should prepare for it. You can take a peek at a recent article I published on the topic here: https://example.com/end-of-eviction-freeze/ where I explained some of the risks each group faces when this happens on September 1st.
Feel free to reach out via email or call my cell if I can help in any way.
As you can see, this pitch doesn’t ramble on about this attorney’s life story. It starts off with a very newsworthy story the editor is probably already aware of, ties that to an upcoming story that most Americans would be interested in, and quickly demonstrates that he is qualified to share his opinion on the topic. You’ll also notice that there’s no begging, sucking up, or attempting to trade a favor for a favor. It’s simple, transparent, and puts the audience first.