Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
If you’re building a brand and trying to get recognized as a thought leader in your industry, chances are, you know what it’s like to feel as though you’re talking to a brick wall. There’s no denying that every brand, new or established, is looking to boost its exposure and reach a wider audience.
While organic and paid media have their time and place, there’s definitely something about leveraging trusted media platforms through Public Relations (PR) that changes the game.
Whether through published articles on traditional media outlets, or interviews on independent media such as podcasts, PR has built a reputation as a useful tool for brands to establish credibility and increase visibility. But I’ve been around the industry long enough to know that it also tends to get a bad rep
So, to ensure you’re not misled, keep reading to discover a few misconceptions about PR that could be limiting your brand’s success — and the truth about how PR really works.
Misconception #1: “You need to be famous to get featured as an expert.”
One common misconception about PR is that you need to be famous to get featured as an expert. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth? It’s not all about fame.
In fact, journalists and editors are constantly in need of qualified experts to quote in their articles. A journalist cannot claim anything without proof or an expert opinion. For example, if they’re writing about a Vitamin B supplement for eye care, they would reference an expert, such as an Optometrist, and the professional body they’re associated with instead of claiming it is good for eyes.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a well-known celebrity or a little-known industry insider — as long as you have the right qualifications and expertise on the topic at hand, you have a chance to be featured as an expert.
There are also times when journalists and editors prefer to find one go-to expert for a specific topic, so there’s a possibility of becoming that go-to expert. I’ve seen it happen with some of my PR clients! That said, many experienced journalists and editors will demand a diverse range of experts, highlighting the ongoing need for fresh featured experts.
The key to getting featured is to find a writer or editor in need of your expertise, build a relationship with them, and be there at the right time and place.
Misconception #2: “PR requires a big investment”
Another misconception about PR is that it costs a ton of money. While this can be true sometimes, it’s not a hard and fast rule. The cost of PR can be influenced by various factors, including the business model of the PR agency you’re working with and the media coverage you seek.
For example, some PR agencies operate on a retainer model where you pay a set amount each month with no guarantees — which I believe to be outdated. This can be problematic, costing tens of thousands of dollars monthly without guaranteed results. In my opinion, this needs to be revolutionized in the industry.
Pay-to-play is another model that’s rising in popularity. In contrast to earned media, where a PR agency secures publication placements for free by acting as your representative, this model is used by PR agencies who, instead, act as a reseller of the advertisement space. This can be more expensive, as you pay for each piece of media coverage you receive. The public also doesn’t know about the nature of this paid model, which presents undisclosed advertisements often delivered as editorial articles — and a little gray area if you ask me.
A better alternative is the earned media model, which my agency mostly operates with. Instead of paying for the publication, the focus is on building relationships with journalists and other media professionals.
The key to this is approaching publications still in the business of attracting visitors and readers, disclosing advertisements and not making money from their contributors. This model is the most affordable as you can either do it yourself at no cost or pay a PR agency for the sole service of making the connection.
Misconception #3: “You need to be well connected to get started”
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be well-connected to get started in PR. While it certainly helps to have connections in the industry, it’s not a requirement for success.
Building relationships with journalists and other media professionals is a key part of the PR process. So, even if you don’t have existing connections, you can still succeed in PR by building relationships and finding the right match from scratch.
And remember, journalists need media experts! With the trust of their audience on the line, they can’t miss a day. If you know the hustle of creating content, you can imagine the effort it takes to create several fact-checked articles consistently every day. Good news for you: they are searching for good content and people providing this. The same goes for podcast hosts that release regularly.
Many online tools for connecting with them, including social media, email, and private channels. Many journalists and podcast hosts publicly share an email where they want to receive pitches. You don’t need to know people beforehand to make the right match. All the resources you need are at your fingertips.
Whether it’s traditional or independent media, local industry-specific or national media coverage, getting featured can be accessible and benefit every brand — no matter the budget, existing connections, or fame.
Don’t let the myths about PR hold you back. Consider PR to help you exponentially grow your brand by boosting your exposure, establishing credibility, and expanding your audience reach.