May 5, 2023 marks the second anniversary of registering my business, McEwen Media Consulting, and the amazing journey that followed. This past year I’ve been able to focus on McEwen Media full-time. It’s moved from side hustle to real business, with a team and everything! Here are five lessons I’ve learned from the past year.
At some point this year I started describing myself as the “earned-media magician”. It's a real point-of-pride and with good reason.
First, earned media opportunities are getting harder to come by. For a long time, newsrooms and TV shows would have a clear separation between advertising and editorial. But over the course of my career, that line is getting more and more blurred. Mainly because budgets are getting smaller, and anyone entering into media knows brand integration keeps the lights on.
Second, traditional media outreach is not a top priority for many PR and marketing firms. I’ve helped a few outlets with advice, guidance, and even managing their media outreach. (When people ask if I do PR, I'm tempted to say "no, but I play one on TV").
This year I realized my zone of excellence is helping on-air experts get booked on TV. But my zone of genius is helping companies and businesses navigate when to pay for exposure and when to get it for free.
The simplest way to explain this is a sliding scale of control over the message. If you want guaranteed media attendance to an event, or specific message, call-to-action, or link to your website, this is paid. There is no editorial value to these requests, especially in a major market. Newsrooms and productions are running on minimum resources. There is not an abundance of staff available for ribbon cuttings (unless a politician is attending and available for media. Even then, you’re not guaranteed the focus of the story will be your new offering).
If you want to be included in a news item for free, also known as ‘earned media’, the only chance you have is a well-timed and newsworthy story. That’s it. There is no degree of favour or followup that will get you this guaranteed. You need to think of your content as editorial. Something that can stand on its own without a brand mention. And when you work in the brand mention, make sure the editorial connection is strong enough to have value in mentioning it.
Anytime you hope for media coverage, your first question should be: what’s the story? And your next question should be: who wants to hear it? Be honest with this assessment. As a brand, you have to earn your earned media. Luckily you have McEwen Media to help you out with this!