“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across,
your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”
–Lee Iacocca

When promoting your business you have a lot of choices of how to spend your money and your time. You could choose to buy an advertisement in the local paper or sponsor an ad on Facebook. You could promote your business through sponsorships, direct mail, trade fairs or sales promotions. You could also use public relations. Forbes magazine says that “PR still accounts for 10 times as many conversions as advertising.” You don’t need to be a rocket scientist or a 5th grader to know why. Consumers spot an advertising gimmick from a mile away but if a third party is giving you a huge shout out, then people listen.

There are three kinds of promotion…owned media, paid media and earned media. Owned media is communicating to your audience through channels within your control. Think websites, blog posts (like this one), social media pages and newsletters. Paid media is advertising and promotional materials. And finally, my favorite, earned media. It’s the hardest one to get. Earned media, sometimes called free media, cannot be bought or owned. It can only be gained organically from a third party. All three – owned, paid and earned are important and should be included into your communications plan but earned media is going to consistently give your organization and your story a leg up in the eyes of your audience.

Richard Branson once said, “A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” To achieve earned media you need to have good media relations with journalists and influencers who are interested in your field or your audience. Good media relations provides that critical third party endorsement. Some media relations result in earned media quickly and some take time to cultivate the relationship to lead to a good story. In addition to having someone who can care and cultivate for these media relationships that person should also be able to provide your staff with the critical skills required to speak to the media. Having a good spokesperson on staff can be the key to a good PR moment or a floundering moment that turns into a crisis.

My name is Amy Kehs. I have been doing public communications consulting for 19 years, and I’ve been doing media relations for 26 years. The majority of my media relations projects have been for museums but I’ve also helped other businesses and non-profits navigate the waters of public relations. I can help your team write a communications plan that includes external, internal and social media messages. Most important to this plan is defining your story so that it will get the most “earned media” attention. I develop the press materials that tell that story and help pull together a detailed and targeted media list. In addition to media relations consulting, I can help your team put together a social media content calendar, conduct media training for your staff, and help guide you to establishing long term media relationships important to your brand or business.

Nowadays, more than ever, people are bombarded with words, stories and messages. How will you tell your story and make it stand out?