I have seen a disturbing trend lately... business owners paying to be featured in media outlets.
'Pay to play' spots as it's commonly referred to, means that a number of 'media outlets' are popping up, inviting women to be featured in their next 'Top 30 business leaders' section for the year, which comes with a nice online column, a place for your picture and a hefty price tag.
Or it could even be a smaller price tag ($97 was the last going rate) to have your 'story' featured in a number of national US media outlets, which promises to 'blow up' your business.
I really don't like to spread negativity.
My mission is to only ever be encouraging, but given my background in publicity, and I don't like to see any person spend $1.00 on anything that won't give them a decent ROI, I need to be real about this offer.
Paying for media exposure or 'pay to play' is an absolute waste of money and a scam.
You are paying for a sponsored advertising post, which does nothing for: your crediblity or attaracting the right clients to your business.
The whole point of credible media outlets is that they have editorial standards, which means if money is exchanged, it is done so in an advertising format, which is transparent to the reader.
Please hear me: I have no issues with paying for advertising.
Advertising can be a great marketing tool, but one usually reserved for bigger companies with big marketing budgets, not small business owners or entrepreneurs who are often struggling to make ends meet when they invest in these 'features' that promise to bring in big business.
Here's 3 why I'm totally against these 'pay to play' offers:
1.It's an advertisement pretending not to be, which is deceiving. And you are paying for an advertorial that gets seen by people who are not your target audience.
2. It gives you no editorial credibility. You may have the media logo on your website (which is great for your ego) but as soon as someone clicks through to the story, it takes them to a weird looking page that is clearly not a story written by a credible journalist. It undermines your credibility in business which you have worked very hard to earn.
3. Google isn't a fan. One of the coolest things about being featured in a credible media outlet is what it does for your SEO (search engine optimisation). But these spots are advertising, so Google isn't going to prioritise ranking the story (read #2 again, even Google understands what media outlets are credible and when they should rank their stories).
Now, instead of just ending on this 'never pay to play' message, I wanted to offer some encouragement.
There are plenty of ways to get your business featured in media that WILL build your credibility, boost your exposure and attract the right type of clients and partners to your business - and they are free.
Here's 4 ways to engage with media in business (for free)
1.Create a dream list of media outlets. If you can't see it, you can't be it, right? Research the outlets that you'd love to be featured in and that make the most sense for your business and industry.
2. Reach out to your local media. Especially if you haven't done media before, look up the details of your local newspaper editor or producer of the local radio station. They are always looking for content that is local, evergreen and relatable. I pitched a story about a car accident my son and I were in a few years ago to our local radio station around the time my book was being published (you can listen here), and it was a perfect fit for local media. Your story and expertise could be very relavent to local journalists- don't knock local. A good article in a local paper can have an incredible impact on your business.
3. Follow the media on socials: This sounds simple, but follow the media outlets you are interested in on all the channels: twitter, facebook, tiktok, linkedin, instagram. They often do shout-outs looking for case studies or producers scroll the feeds looking for stories. I landed a story in a national news outlet by responding to a facebook call out (you can see that story here).
4. Pitch your content: Even if you don't think you can write, go back to your social media content and turn a few pieces into blogs and articles and pitch them out. Your content is a gold mine in terms of what you can offer media outlets that are always looking for fresh content for their audience. Make sure it's relavent to their audience and you have the right hook, and call to action at the end of your post.
There are plenty of ways you can attract the right media attention to your business without spending advertising dollars, these are just a few,
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