How Top PR Firms Build Authority Through Media Appearances

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: Hi, I’m John McDougall. I’m here today with Dan Janal, the author of “Reporters Are Looking for YOU!” and founder of prleads.com. We’ll be talking about building authority through media appearances. So Dan, how important is public relations and getting interviewed by the press in terms of building yourself and your brand as experts?

Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: Oh, PR is essential. It really is the building block. In fact, I called my company “PR Leads” because PR leads, all forms of marketing, to that follows. So you start with publicity, and you build credibility through media upon executives and business leaders, and appoint them as authorities, and experts, and celebrities.

And then, you take that credibility and you turn it into your advertising. So you leverage your publicity with advertising. Then you spend a lot more money on advertising. So publicity is generally a much lower expense than advertising in the whole scheme of things. So it all starts with publicity.

The reporters are really essential in creating that trust. And I know there’s a lot of give and take these days about the lamestream media, and all that sort of stuff. But that kind of talk is nonsense because people really do trust the media.

Newspapers are still selling and people read reviews. They read restaurant reviews. They read movie reviews. They read theater reviews. And they certainly do read business profile stories in local newspapers to see who the hot movers and shakers are.

Or if they have a topic that’s in the news like employee wages, or discrimination, or women’s rights, or such like that. If you want to be known as an expert in that field, you would talk to a reporter and get quoted in an article about that topic. And then, you can use that article in reprints as a way of building your credibility.

Of course, once you’re quoted — that’s a question a lot of my clients ask me. “Okay, I got publicity, what do I do now?” That’s really a key question because you can’t expect everyone to read every page of every newspaper that you’ve been quoted on. It just doesn’t happen. It will now by interruption marketing and PR is no different.

We have to get our publicity in front of our key prospects, our current clients, and our former clients in order to get more business, because that’s what it’s really all about. So it’s using publicity to build authority and trust, so you can get new clients and keep the clients you have.

So let me go a little bit deeper into that quickly. Number 1, you want to send the tear sheet. A tear sheet is a copy of the article, or if it’s an online, you could do a screen print. You want to send that copy to your current clients. We all know that loyalty is very rare in the market these days. So we want to stay in front of our clients and let them know that we’re still the best game in town.

We want to send the copies of these articles to our former clients because they could always get back in the game. I do a lot of publicity for authors and they’ll spend two years writing a book. Then they’ll spend six months promoting a book, and they’ll use my services. And then, they’ll stop using my services, and go back to write their next book.

And two years later, they’re coming back and working with me again. You may find the same situation with the people who have babies or are taking time off from work to take care of relatives or people then relocated. And they come back to the area as well.

So there are million reasons to reconnect with your former clients and get them back in the fold. And finally, of course, you want to send the articles to your prospects because we all know that it takes umpteen impressions in order to make a decision with prospects.

I know back in London in the 1800s. They said it was seven touches to build trust and credibility, then it became 21. I have no idea what number is today, but I’m guessing it’s pretty large. So sending an article that is useful to your prospects helps you in a couple of ways. Number 1, you’re giving them information that is useful to them and helps them lead happier, more productive, more rewarding lives, and maybe even make more money.

And also, it puts you in front of them on a non-salesy basis. You’re acting as a trusted adviser when you send them the article. And the fact that the article quotes you is icing on the cake. So you can’t go wrong. So that’s, in a nutshell, the whole idea of publicity. PR gives you the credibility you need to build the trust that builds the rapport, that makes prospects want to do business with you, and stay with you, and become customers for life.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: Yes, absolutely. We’re in the business also of conversion rate optimization, trying to squeeze more leads out of the same amount of visitors on your site. And so, quoting those media appearances throughout your website on your homepage and in different places as awesome credibility and your trust goes up.

The media certainly are a fickle bunch in some ways. They’re busy and it’s hard to get through to them. Do you think they respond better to people who are authors, bloggers and who are active on social media versus the average company owner who may be an expert in their own right? And they really are. They really are an expert, but maybe they haven’t worked it up unto a little bit of a frenzy that’s easily recognizable when they asked the media if they’d like to interview them. How do you respond to that?

Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: I was a newspaper reporter. In fact, an award-winning newspaper reporter and business newspaper editor for a daily newspaper in New York, just outside of New York City, before I went to PR. So I know what it’s like to be in the trenches. And when you’re facing a deadline, and an angry editor says, “We got to get this story done,” you’ll go with the best available source who’s available right now. So I said available twice.

I’m not joking there. We might have edited that out in the transcript but that’s how important it really is. If you’re not available, you’re not going to get quoted. And if you pick up a newspaper and see your competitors listed there and quoted there, there are two reasons. Number 1, they raise their hand and made themselves available to the reporters. That’s it. They didn’t know that you’re alive. So what are you doing to tell the reporters that you are alive.

And I would suggest that everyone figure out who their local business newspaper editor is or the reporter who’s covering your topic and start a relationship with them. You mentioned social media. That’s the best place to start. You could pick up the phone and most reporters use the phones as screening device, so you could leave a short pitch to hear that says, “Hi. Here’s who I am. Here’s what I do, and I’d love to be a resource for you anytime you’re writing a story about this, that, or the other thing,” and “give me your contact information,” and hung up and wait. So, it’s 30 seconds. That’s not long. If you talk more than that, you probably are going to bore them to death, and they’ll delete your message.

So if they need you, they’ll dial indeed. But right now, we’re just gathering. So a lot of reporters are available on social media. And a lot of reporters are available online. Many newspaper and magazine articles are printed online along with the reporter’s name and their email address.

Many of these articles have comment sections underneath them. And this is a great place to start to build rapport. Because you can say, “Hey, this is a great article. Thanks for doing it. If you ever need a follow-up article, I can help you with more information.”

Or you might have more information like statistics or quotes or anecdotes that lend more information to the story. Put that in there. The reporter will start to notice that you are alive, especially if you’re in a smaller market like a small geographic market, or a vertical market.

So that’s great. If you’re trying to get press about the secret service, that’s pretty hard because it’s a national story. But if you’re a local realtor, or a dentist, or an employment counselor, it should be pretty easy to get publicity in your local media. Because frankly, most people don’t do it. If you post information on social media, if you reach out to these reporters on social media, if you send them your media kit or call them on the phone, those are great ways to start the engagement and start a relationship.

And of course, if you happen to see a reporter at, say, a trade show or a rotary club event, go off to them. Introduce yourself. Make yourself known, because believe me, reporters are frantic when they’re writing a story. When they’re writing a story – they’re on deadline, they need you more than you need them. So don’t think that you’re bothering them at that point. You’re a resource.

So, hold your head high. Walk in there, your head held high and say, “I can help you. I can be a resource for you.” And if they quote you, that’s cool, because then, you’ll get that credibility that we talked about and that we covered.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: That sounds perfect. What about in terms of being an author and a blogger? And say, you’re reaching out to some media, and you’re able to mention, “Oh, you might check out this article I wrote on my blog. And it also happens to say, “I’m the author of XYZ book.” The journalists take that fairly seriously.

I know you’re saying that basically, if you’re there at the right time, at the right place, that may be all it takes sometimes, but it certainly helps, I would think. I know in my case, it’s helped a little bit having that extra credibility where they can quickly say, “Hey, this person’s an author and a blogger. And they’re reaching out on social. Let’s just go for it. Use them as an expert.”

Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: Well, yes. Let me dissect that question a little bit. Reporters will go with the best available source, who has the best comments, and the reasonable amount of credibility. And I’m sure there are many people listening to this podcast who have not written books, but they have 10 years of experience selling real estate in this marketplace. Congratulations! You’re an expert.

There are many people listening who have advanced degrees in their field. Congratulations! You’re an expert. That’s what reporters would want to see at the bare minimum. If you’ve written a book, that’s great. That’s a gold standard of credibility. Of course, reporters are smart these days, because they wrote and self-published.

So if you’ve been published by a major publisher, and I had six books published by John Wiley. They’ve been translated to six languages, I am very credible. My latest book, “Reporters Are Looking for YOU!” I self-published that with CreateSpace. That’s a lot less credible, but I make more money because I’m not sure, again, with the publisher.

So that’s the decision every author makes. But as far as a reporter goes, if you say you’re the author of a book that was published by your last name press. It doesn’t have the same credibility as being with Wiley or Random House or Penguin or a major publisher like that. So it’s good that you’ve written a book. It’s better if you’ve written a book with a major publisher. So there’s a pecking order in everything, I guess.

You mentioned bloggers. There’s a pecking orders with bloggers too. There are some bloggers who have reputations and hundreds of thousands of followers, and are quoted in the media as experts in their field. And there are a lot of tech reviewers falling to that category. There are a lot of mommy bloggers, and cosmetics bloggers, and fashion bloggers. Some of them are 13 years old. And they have hundreds of thousands of followers. And they get quoted by reporters.

In fact, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal recently that one 13-year old girl has an agent and he represented her with a movie, wanting to feature her in a little blurb in the movie as a fashion blogger. And they were really quite surprised that instead of being thrilled at the opportunity, she said, “No, talk to my agent, and we’ll let them handle it.”

So, Hollywood has invaded the bloggers and the YouTubers. It’s a really, really changing world. So, again, there are some bloggers who have incredibly big reputations, that are well-known. And then, there are coots who have blogs too. Reporters are a skeptical bunch in general. So the more credibility you have, the more respect they will give you.

So to just say you’re a blogger doesn’t mean you’re in the game or you’re out of the game. And so, you’re a blogger of 100,000 readers or a blogger who’s been quoted in Time and the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, that’s going to grab their attention. In fact, when I teach people how to respond to reporters, that’s one of the first things I tell them to do.

First, of course, is who you are, what you do. And then, I invent in this line that says, I’ve been quoted in the media many times including A, B, and C. And reporters are not expecting this, but it gives them a subtle kick in the pants. If the kick in the pants could be subtle, and so it’s “Gee, if they’re good enough for The New York Times or Time Magazine or Wall Street Journal, they’re good enough for me.”

So that’s an easy way to start to build credibility with reporters just as you mentioned, putting the logos on your Web site is an easy way or a quick way for everyone to say, “Well, they must be credible, because they appeared in these publications. So I’m willing to learn more about them and engage with them on a deeper level.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: Those are some great tips. I can definitely use some of that myself. What about media interviews in terms of them generating backlinks? I’ve certainly got some with links, some without. Do you find there’s a way to increase the amount of times when you get quoted that you get an actual backlink or do you just kind of let it ride and just get as much press as possible and some of that will turn into good backlinks that Google will pick up on?

Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: If you want a full proof way to get it to backlink, you call your company .com, so prleads.com. If they want to print the name of the company, bring that through printer.com.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: Right [chuckles].


Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: If it says PR leads, then you’re up to the mercies and the editor of policies of the media. Five, ten years ago, it was hard to get a live link. Now, I think more media are putting the links in there because they realize, it’s a public service to their readers. The readers want more information. Then, “Yes, let’s put a LinkedIn, so people can find the information.”

Of course, this goes back to the old theory that “Gee, if I put a link in here, people will leave our Web site.” We’ll, I don’t know anyone who has been held hostage by a Web site. People will leave your Web site sooner or later. So, I think the media has finally got around to that way of thinking ahead as well. But the “Don’t put a link in there because they’ll leave” philosophy had dominated the Web for many, many years.

Even though that sort of a direct contradiction of what Tim Berners-Lee used when he really created the Web and created hyperlinks, it was all an idea about interlinking everything and everyone. So you can find every bit of information easily. It was all about links. And I think that as time goes on, we will see more and more links that are hot linked.

But also, Google is getting smarter. Even if you don’t have links and say you press released an article, Google is smart enough to figure out that this article or press release or blog post is about this topic and they very well may come up when people type in those certain words.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: Yes, absolutely. I think Google is getting smarter. Even if there’s not a link, the text around your name and your citations could become even more like a backlink moving forward.

Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: Right. And that also brings up another quick point. I hope I’m not off topic here.


John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: Oh, yes.


Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: Google ranks Web sites. So a media Web site will have a higher rank than a professional services firm Web site. And educational Web site or a government site is also ranked pretty high. Highly traffic site is ranked pretty high. So you want to be on those sites as well. So while you’re saying you’re on your site that you’re great, and you’re wonderful, and you’re LinkedIn profile has all of your information, any prospect who’s checking you out, has taken note of the greater self in saying, well of course, they say they’re wonderful, and they have lots of wonderful testimonials on LinkedIn. But we need to find an unbiased source.

And that’s where publicity can come in and help because when they Google your name or your company name or your product, and they see an article, or media citation about this, it will show up higher probably than your own Web site. And people read it and determine whether they want to go deeper and actually interact with your company.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: Yes, absolutely. And just the whole idea of being in that sphere of influence. The more you’re cited and the more you’re connected to influencers and other experts, whether it’s Google, or whether it’s your customers just seeing that you’re connected to all these people, you’re going to get more respect from both Google and your customers.

Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: That’s so true. In fact, one of my clients is in the business of sales and marketing. He always asks his clients to ask his clients what they think they do for him. So I said, “What do you think I do for you?” He said, you increased my digital footprint. I said, “Wow!”

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: [Laughs] Way to make me feel good.


Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: We do feasibility. We help build your credibility. We help build your authority. He said, “You increased my digital footprint” and he’s not a techy guy at all! But it’s so true. If someone is checking him out, they’re going to go on Google, look for all sorts of resources. And if it’s just him and his Web site, and his LinkedIn page, that’s not enough in today’s world.

So we write press releases for him. He gets quoted in the media, and his press release are indexed as well on Google, because Google seems to like press releases. And they can read his contents. So, it’s another interaction point.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: Yes. That makes perfect sense. Google certainly has changed a little bit in terms of what press releases do from an SEO ranking perspective over the years, which is a good thing. I think a lot of people are just spamming it out, and doing all the free press release submission sites just because you get a backlink, but it just doesn’t work anymore like that.

Doing good press releases through a solid service – Marketwired, PR Newswire, et cetera – all very valid ways to get legitimate news out there as long as you have something decent to say. But just blasting out anything you can on a free press release site to get a link those days are gone for sure.

Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: Yes. Google is very smart and has someone who writes press releases and distributes press releases for clients. I love what Google is doing, because it’s getting rid of these low quality bottom feeder kind of places that really didn’t do much good anyway. But they were free or they were very, very low-cost.

So, people would go to them because it’s human nature, right? Now, those guys are either disappearing or people realizing that they’re not going to get any great feedback from there, so it’s helping our business in the long term.

John McDougall founder of authoritymarketing.comJohn McDougall: I agree. That all sounds good. We have some next questions with it that are going to be a little more how-to. So what I’m thinking is we’re going to take a little break, and come back and do this as a part two.

Again, we’ve been with Dan Janal, author of “Reporters Are Looking for YOU!” and founder of PR Leads, and we’ll be right back. Thanks, Dan.

Dan Janal prleads.comDan Janal: Thank you.

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