Earned Media: 3 Reasons You Should Win Your Home Market First

Everyone wants to score earned media wins with top tier outlets. That’s fine. But, more often than not, you should prioritize winning in your own backyard first.

I’ll be honest: Some of the most frenzied hi-five sessions I’ve experienced as a PR pro have come when I’ve placed a story in a big-name outlet. Which makes sense. After all, seeing your business in the New York Times or Forbes makes parents proud, investors happy, and shows our old college friends that we’ve (at last!) made something of ourselves.

And while you should be aiming for those media placements — so long as they fit with your overarching business needs — 90 percent of the time, you’d benefit by focusing your earned media efforts on winning local stories first.

Here are three reasons why.

The barrier to earned media success is lower.

If you haven’t yet, just try to guess how many press releases and pitch emails are sent every day to the writers and editors of outlets like the Wall Street Journal and TechCrunch. No, I don’t have access to that actual number, but I’d venture a guess that it’s close to the same number of stars in the night sky.

You may really, really, think you’ve got a golden pitch, but so do thousands of other folks on a daily basis. Given that reality, betting odds would be pretty slim that you’re going to be able to (1) catch anyone’s attention in those marquee newsrooms, or (2) have them write about you and your business.

Alternatively, your local media folks are always on the lookout for high-quality, relevant stories to tell their audience — and they are fielding far fewer pitches and press releases, so the odds are in your favor (so long as you’re reaching out to the right people and serving them something worthwhile).

Local earned media helps SEO.

Every new business should be concerned about their SEO performance — where they rank on the answer-end of a Google search — and how they can better their rankings.

Guess what helps tremendously in that regard?

That’s right, news stories (preferably the ones with links) about that business.

Yes, media placements on the bigger, more trafficked, sites help more on the SEO front, but there is a decent chance that with all the time you’re out there chasing the BIG media hit, you could’ve landed a handful on local or regional outlets.

And each one of those would be driving SEO juice to your site.

Small-scale earned media is a validator to bigger outlets.

When I was working in-house at a business not too long ago, we had committed to building our local media presence first. We operated in dozens of markets, so we were able to rack up a lengthy list of press hits.

Later, when going after some top-tier placements, I was swapping emails with a national reporter who, after Googling our business, said “Whoa, you guys are everywhere.”

It was an instant validator.

We weren’t some fly-by-night outfit, and we had hundreds of news articles online to prove it. Those local write-ups served as a background check for her, removing any apprehensions she may have had about us. Without them, she would have only had my word, our website, and our Facebook page to vouch for the business.

So, don’t stop stretching for those big media placements, friends.

But while you’re at it, be sure to get as many earned media wins in your own backyard as possible.

David Martin is a co-founder of Heed Public Relations. You can reach him at david@heedpr.com.