#672: Getting BUYERS Attention With EARNED MEDIA With Dustin Siggins

Dustin Siggins is the founder of Proven Media Solutions. He helps clients accomplish their media and branding goals by intentionally placing their brands in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Associated Press, and many other targeted outlets.

In this episode of The Salesman Podcast, Dustin explains what “earned media” is and how salespeople can use it to get in front of their buyers and increase their thought leadership.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Dustin Siggins
Media Placement Guru and Founder of Proven Media Solutions

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today's episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Earned media is when you get your name in the press or your company's name in the press. If you see the Washington Post, there's an op-ed by someone, some thought leader like Mark Cuban. That's earned media.

 

Dustin Siggins:

50 per cent of consumers increase their trust in your brand after reading something positive. 44 per cent will lose trust when they read something negative, and Bospar, which is in the technology space, did a national poll, found that 19 per cent of consumers will visit your website after seeing you mentioned once in the press.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, sales nation. My name is Will Barron, and I'm the host of the Salesman Podcast, the world's most downloaded podcast on B to B sales. On today's episode, we have the legend that is Dustin Siggins. He is CEO over at Proven Media Solutions, and you can find him over at provenmediasolutions.net. On today's episode, we're getting into earned media. What it is and how you can use it to take your sales career to the next level, how you can use it to differentiate yourself from other salespeople by building a halter of trust in the media both big and small. We'll get into all this. Everything we talk about, as always, is in the show notes of this episode over at salesman.org. With all of that said, let's jump right into it.

 

What is Earned Media? · [01:20] 

 

Will Barron:

New topic, interesting topic for the audience. We'll look at how to leverage earned media and use this to accelerate sales and our thought leadership personal brand, and all that good stuff. But let's start at the very beginning here for anyone who isn't familiar with this term because [inaudible 00:01:31] sales people and sales leaders as opposed to I guess marketers and PR. What does earned media actually mean?

 

“Earned media is when you get your name in the press or your company's name in the press. If you see the Washington Post, there's an op-ed by some thought leader like Mark Cuban, that's earned media” – Dustin Siggins · [01:38] 

 

Dustin Siggins:

Earned media is when you get your name in the press or your company's name in the press. If you see the Washington Post, there's an op-ed by some thought leader like Mark Cuban. That's earned media, that op-ed. Or an interview if you do with a local press, that's earned media. Earned media is getting into the newspaper, on a radio interview, a podcast interview, anything along those lines.

 

The Definition of Press in this Current Day and Age · [02:10]

 

Will Barron:

The follow up from that is, and I don't know if there's even a definition for this anymore, but what does the press mean? Because 20 years ago it'd be Wall Street Times best seller or getting in the New York Times an an op-ed. Now, am I press? What is press, Dustin?

 

Dustin Siggins:

You are press. Anyone who is speaking to an audience through an influencer, we call them gatekeepers. Reporters, reporter editors, your producer [inaudible 00:02:29] is a gatekeeper. You're a gatekeeper. Getting in front of people who influence target markets, the public, B to B, those people are press. These are people who edit. They have standards and other things. Places that don't have as many standards, let's say blogs, they also would be considered press, though blogging of course has kind of taken a tank with Twitter and Instagram and Facebook [inaudible 00:02:58] end markets.

 

Dissecting Earned Media, Owned Media, Paid Media · [03:06]

 

Will Barron:

Sure. I want to get into what's the most effective thing we should be looking at, where we should be spending our time in a little bit, but a couple of things here. I assume this is why it's called earned media, because there's as gatekeeper as opposed to something like Twitter where you can jump on and start just spamming and harassing people at will.

 

“Advertising is your paid media, and then earned media, you have to earn it. You have to show somebody, you have to show a gatekeeper that you have the title, the timing, the topic. You have to show that you've answered those internal questions that are necessary to make your point of view, your content, verbal or otherwise, valuable. That's why it's earned.” – Dustin Siggins · [03:23] 

 

Dustin Siggins:

Actually, it goes back to when it was just advertising versus brand marketing vs. PR. Advertising is your paid media, and then earned media, you have to earn it. You have to show somebody, you have to show a gatekeeper that you have the title, the timing, the topic. You have to show that you've answered those internal questions that are necessary to make your point of view, your content, verbal or otherwise, valuable. That's why it's earned.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Typically in the long run, you want them to come to you. Mark Cuban doesn't have to contact anyone. Donald Trump, Barack Obama, they don't have to ask, “Can I get this place?” Someone's going to contact them.

 

Why You Don’t Have to Be a Big-Name Brand to Get the Most Out of Earned Media · [03:58]

 

Will Barron:

I guess this is on a sliding scale, right, of we've got quite a large audience here. It's a tiny audience for podcasts, but it's a large audience for sales and business shows, so I can pretty much get on most sales and business podcasts relatively easily even though I'm essentially a nobody. The point that we don't need to be Mark Cuban to be playing this game, right? There is a sliding scale to it.

 

Dustin Siggins:

There's definitely a sliding scale. Now you run into a challenge sometimes where I had a client that was very small. They were doing a really interesting dynamic thing on a state level. The day we put out a press release about their dynamic information, somebody with a large national brand came out with even more controversial information in the industry and just swamped our coverage. We had several national outlets ready to cover us, and then they were swamped with this national figure. That's the downside.

 

Dustin Siggins:

The positive side is an op-ed, for example, we helped someone who really didn't have much of a brand. We got them to partner with a member of congress because it was an issue the member of Congress cared deeply about, so they co-authored the piece. Now there is a connection to the member of Congress's office, and it got published in a national outlet widely read by the industry. There's definitely some goods and bad to being a smaller person trying to rise up to thought leadership.

 

Leveraging Thought Leadership Into Earned Media · [05:30]

 

Will Barron:

Okay, we'll cover the “how” in a second. Let's just paint a picture of the “why.” I want to get into the “how,” Dustin, as well because I want to use half this stuff I'm sure before we wrap up the show. But the “why.” If you're a sales person, perhaps you don't want to work in sales the rest of your life. Maybe you want to go to C suite. You've got big career aspirations. Maybe you want to start a company on the back of your sales skills, whatever it is, and you know that attention, right, is the best way to achieve a lot of these business goals. How does earned media help us become thought leaders? Because I think a lot of people think thought leadership is you go on LinkedIn, you post some nonsense every few weeks, nobody reads it, and then you type “thought leader” in your bio on LinkedIn, right? How does that compare versus the reality of actual thought leaders who have earned media coverage over the years?

 

Dustin Siggins:

Sure. This is similar to words like “strategy” or words like “entrepreneur.” Every person that sells a cupcake is an entrepreneur now. If you're a sales person, let's say when the whole world changed eight months ago, sales changed eight months ago. You couldn't do face to face coffee meetings, so someone who wants to do a video on what they've learned, best practises, how to make the transition to, it's a lot of the stuff you see on Entrepreneur.com or Forbes. That would be thought leadership.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Getting yourself published or doing a video that other people will publish themselves, produce, or being on your show to talk about something interesting. Someone said this to me when I was early in my career. Something that's in the news that's interesting that nobody else is talking about, and then go talk about that. You're finding things in the news, usually in the news, reacting to them in a way that adds new value. That's essentially what you would do. Let's say, if you're a financial advisor, and in March, the stock market loses 40 per cent of its value, and you write an op-ed saying, “This is a good opportunity for investors.” Well, that's accurate, it's thought leadership, and it's counterintuitive.

 

The Benefits of Being a Thought Leader · [07:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Again, just before we get… Because I want to say my next question is how do we get that out there? Who do we put it in front of? But just before that, with thought leadership, what is the benefits of being a thought leader? I mean, the obvious thing, it seems to me, is trust. If I'm looking at two vendors, I'm dealing with two salespeople, one of them has been published in Forbes. He or she has done X, Y, Z, they have a podcast, which I can tune into the podcast, is creating content. For me as a consumer, I get to consume hours of it versus salesperson letter B who just is trying to flog me some random stuff. Clearly you're going to go with the “thought leader.” Is there anything that I've missed here? Is there anything other than just trust that thought leadership can bring to professionals who want to take their careers to the next level?

 

Dustin Siggins:

Sure. Thought leadership definitely builds trust. It can also, and again, depending if you're representing yourself or your organisation, it can also drive trust protection because at some point, you're going to get criticised. You're going to get attacked. The question is, are people going to believe that attack, or are they going to believe what you have out there? It's much, much better to be prepared.

 

Dustin Siggins:

From a trust perspective, there's two sides to that. Then it can also frankly drive sales because there were two studies done earlier this year, which I can get into more detail a little bit later if you'd like, which showed that average consumers read and either increase trust and/or visit your website. There can be a direct link to sales from earned media. Let's say you're a local restaurant, you're just opening, and you have someone review, a food critic. That person's going to drive sales if it's a good restaurant and good food. That's going to drive sales directly to your restaurant.

 

Thought Leadership and Trust Protection · [09:18]

 

Will Barron:

I've never thought about this before, but it makes total sense. Is this a term you've come up with, “trust protection,” or is it a wider known term?

 

Dustin Siggins:

I just made it up right now, but it's more brand protection, brand value. I just made it, I call it a [inaudible 00:09:35]. What's a British term that I can use?

 

Will Barron:

No, no, trust protection is perfect. As you said, that phrase, it stoked just a quick anecdote for me of, it was a good few years ago now. It's called the Salesman Podcast. The content is for whoever, salesmen, sales women, I don't care. Literally that was the domain I could buy, salesman.org. Salesperson.org was 15 grand, so that was why we went down this route. No more complicated than that.

 

Will Barron:

Just with the percentage of men versus women in sales and maybe this podcast… Maybe men listen to podcasts more than women. I don't know. I have no idea on that data. Maybe men prefer to listen to this show with the women, and there's plenty of podcasts hosted by female sales experts as well. Whatever the numbers, it's almost irrelevant. The data skews heavily towards men. It's like 80 per cent of our listeners are men. Great, again, totally irrelevant to me.

 

Will Barron:

Well, I mentioned this on the podcast. Again, it was years and years ago. Next thing, wake up the next morning, and I've got 50-odd notification on LinkedIn, and back then that was like, “Something great's happened here!” Now it just means I've not logged into LinkedIn for a few days because I've been lazy and haven't replied to people. I logged in, and there was this post by a female salesperson who, I don't want to give too much detail because I don't want to give her any press or credit, basically just slating the show, calling it sexist and all this, all because I just made an objective conversational point. It wasn't even the topic of conversation. I just mentioned that 80 per cent of our audience are men. Anyway, she took offence to this.

 

Will Barron:

Next thing, I got a few emails. I was like, “Oh, bloody hell, what am I supposed to deal with?” Dustin, I'm sure you would probably have some [inaudible 00:11:22] strategy to use this and spin it into positive press, whatever. I was just out there thinking, “I'll probably just ignore it until it goes away.” It didn't seem to go away over the course of the day. Anyway, long story short, with this idea of trust protection and brand protection, a bunch of the female sales leaders that have been on the show and I've engaged with and I've been on their podcasts as well, they came and essentially just hounded this individual in the comments.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Fantastic.

 

Will Barron:

Made her look like a complete fool, and that was the end of it. They got it completely wiped out. I think she actually deleted the post, and that was it. Just an anecdote there of I inadvertently got myself into this trouble that didn't really exist. It was just somebody trying to get attention off the back of our brand, and then via the trust I'd built with industry partners, I guess, by doing podcasts and press, they'd come to my rescue. Is this what we're aiming for? Is this I guess building a little tribe that can help each other progress? Is that what we're aiming for with this?

 

Dustin Siggins:

Yeah. That's part of it. Another part, so you just used a really good, solid little anecdote. I'm going to go the other side of the anecdote spectrum. Boeing, the 75, 80 billion dollar a year company. They're a government contract, I think, right? They build planes. They build weapons systems. Earlier this year, they got slammed by Nikki Haley, who is the former governor of South Carolina. She slammed them for going for a government bailout. They didn't need it. It turns out they didn't quite get a bailout. They finagled the numbers a little bit, and whatever. They still got assistance from the government.

 

Dustin Siggins:

She slammed them. Nikki Haley is very influential in conservative political circles. She might run for President of the United States. A lot of conservatives covered her commentary, and from what I can tell, it had no effect on Boeing's core target markets: regulators, elected members of Congress, governments across the 150 countries they're in. It did not affect their core target markets.

 

Dustin Siggins:

A lot of times, you do what you talked about. You want to ignore it. You've built up this brand. Unless the little naysayers, you're always going to have haters. My business partner describes them as keyboard warriors because he used to run a mixed martial arts website. These are the people who talk big but have never thrown a punch in their life. In your case, this is maybe a woman who's never actually sold anything. She's just offended.

 

Dustin Siggins:

But contrast Boeing's success getting this government assistance and ignoring, frankly, Governor… Nikki Haley left their board of directors. I mean, this is a very influential person, and it didn't really seem to matter. I don't think they even really responded to her criticisms. Contrast that with the 737 mistakes they made, where the two planes crashed. Tens of thousands of planes are now just not being constructed. They're under investigation because they had this brand built, and it directly affected their target market. That's again a high level, a big international example of what you just described.

 

Will Barron:

I guess there's multiple layers to this, especially if you're selling a corporate product, an enterprise product. You might be a salesperson for Boeing, so there's probably multiple threads that we could go down, but I'll try and keep the conversation narrow.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Yes, sorry.

 

Will Barron:

No, no, it's me. It's an interesting topic because we could be talking about what we can do to promote the brand that we work for and how we can, if it's a good brand like Boeing, recognisable, we might want to attach ourself to that and be a representative of theirs more so than just an employee. Also we could obviously then go against that and start to position ourselves as that individual did in your anecdote.

 

How to Get an Op-Ed Piece Published · [15:11]

 

Will Barron:

With that, Dustin, then, so if we're going to take a… We'll use your example. We're going to take something that's going on in the media. We've got a unique spin on it because we're an expert of our product or service, so we can give thoughts, feedback, and insight on it. We've created, let's say we've created a post because then we can turn that post into a video, interviews, other things. We'll start with a post. What do we do with it, other than just stick it on LinkedIn and have four people view it?

 

Dustin Siggins:

Let's say there was complete lockdown across the world again, and we knew it was going to last a year. Any face to face interactions are going to be firmly looked down upon by government. You might write an opinion piece and target it because you can have, what, half a million downloads a month? So you definitely have the credibility and the background, and you aim that for the Guardian, then frame it for your target audience. Your end target audience is the salesperson, the consumer of sales, the end purchaser, but your real first target market is that editor. Is that editor going to find it valuable? Then you have to think about, “What am I saying? How am I saying it? Why am I saying it?”

 

Dustin Siggins:

You have the title. You have the title of host of the Salesman Podcast, and it gets a half a million downloads a month. All right, you have the title. Is your timing good? Well, if there's a worldwide lockdown over covid-19 and sales has now changed forever, that's great timing. The topic, you're not talking about building rocket engines or creating vaccines. You're talking about how sales has changed. Now, the Guardian frankly might not be interested in that because the Guardian is talking about big cultural and policy issues. You would have to either have sales either as a secondary component of it, the unforeseen impacts of X, Y, and Z, or why you might appreciate the lockdown. The silver lining in the lockdown, no more door to door salesmen. That might be how you would talk about it there.

 

Dustin Siggins:

The last thing to consider, is the Guardian the place for you? Yeah, they have a large national reach, and of course your small segment might read the Guardian. Or is it better to aim for an industry trade pub, whether business wide like Forbes or Entrepreneur or within the sales space itself? Those are the overall considerations, the tactical and strategic considerations you would want to go through.

 

How to Gain The Editor’s Attention when Pitching an Op-Ed Piece · [17:40] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay, so what does an editor want from… We'll continue this projection of me doing this, and I might even try and put this together and see where we go. That'd be an interesting blog post [crosstalk 00:17:54].

 

Dustin Siggins:

If it doesn't work, it's not my fault. It's always your fault.

 

Will Barron:

It's all Dustin's fault, whatever happens, good or bad. Say I'd reached out to the Telegraph, the Guardian, whatever, on an op-ed piece. There's such a high percentage of the workforce that work in sales or indirectly in sales that I feel like I could pitch something that would be relevant to a big newspaper-esque audience. But what does an editor want? Do they want me to say something that's going to sell newspapers? Do they want something that's going to be interesting? Are they just looking to fill up space if we look at perhaps a website rather than actual the printed version of what they're publishing? What do they want from us?

 

Dustin Siggins:

They want, again, every market's a little bit different, right? In your case, it seems like you're looking for guests who want actionable items for your listening and viewing audience, right? When I went on your website after watching Chris Voss on your show, I had to frame my pitch that way. If I had just said, “Hey, earned media's cool, and get published,” you would have said, “That's cute,” and walked away. I had to frame my pitch a very specific way.

 

Dustin Siggins:

What you want to do is actually look at the publication. Read what they've already published. A lot of them, especially large publications, will have their standards. Word length, what they want to see, what their audience prefers to see, what they're trying to get their audience to realise. That will often help guide how you craft your material. Again, we're talking about the written word here, but the same thing applies to TV shows, radio shows, and podcasts.

 

Who is an Opinion Editor? · [19:31] 

 

Will Barron:

Who do we send this to? Bear in mind that we're speaking to an audience of sales people here who are more than capable of finding the right person at the right place and going down the route of a cold message. They'll not be bothered by that, but who should you be reaching out to?

 

Dustin Siggins:

Most outlets will have an opinion editor. At least the well-established ones will have a content editor, an opinion editor, or just the Washington Post has a general email that goes to their editor board of seven or 10 or whatever it is many people who make the decisions together on the 500 op-eds they get every day.

 

How to Stand Out and Write the Perfect Op-Ed Pitch · [20:10]

 

Will Barron:

What can we do then to stand out? It seems to me that even if we wrote an amazing article and it's the right place, the right people at the right time, we're still in a sea of people who are creating great content at the right place at the right people at the right time.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Right, correct, and the worst part is a lot of those people have people writing it for them. PR firms, assistants, whatever, whereas you might be writing it yourself late at night after the podcast is over, and you submit it, but in that eight-hour stretch, three other op-eds were submitted by people with larger brands.

 

Will Barron:

Okay, let's narrow this down, Dustin, because I feel like this is a good conversation for me and you, and I'm making notes.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Sorry.

 

Will Barron:

But for the audience, perhaps they want to get published on the LinkedIn news site. I know that drives tonnes of traffic, and I know a lot of our audience have published content or have ended up on there. Say we've narrowed down the editor of LinkedIn News that we want to get in touch with. It's industry specific because their news is split up into sales and hospitality and different segments.

 

Dustin Siggins:

I'm not a LinkedIn expert, I will tell you. I've never gone on that section. I want to preempt that real quick.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. What does that initial cold email outreach look like? Does it say, “Hey, I'm pretty cool. I've got this article, and I can show you the first three lines of it if you agree to publish it,” or do we just dump it on them and then follow up in a week?

 

Dustin Siggins:

You want to look at their standards. Sometimes places say, “Don't send us the piece. Send us a pitch. Send us the outline of what you want to get published.” Most of the time, I have a subject line that says, “Op-ed submission: subject.” Or the person's name: subject. Because now you've identified that you know the basic standards, who they are, what they're all about. They're the op-ed editor or whatever. Your pitch should be five sentences, eight at most. “My name is Dustin Siggins. I'm the CEO of Proven media Solutions and a business columnist. Attached is an op-ed about X, Y, and Z subject.” Next paragraph, three sentences about what this op-ed is about. “The piece is exclusively yours for 24 hours, 48 hours.”

 

“If you're responding quickly to a very time-sensitive subject, you can't let them guide that. You have to be able to tell them 24 hours and then you're moving on. The exclusivity is very important to a lot of outlets, and not just exclusivity to publish, but exclusivity to consider what you're sending them.” – Dustin Siggins · [22:30] 

 

Dustin Siggins:

Depending upon the outlet, a lot of them say, “We hold it for three days, and then we'll let you know.” If you're responding quickly to a very time-sensitive subject, you can't let them guide that. You have to be able to tell them 24 hours and then you're moving on. The exclusivity is very important to a lot of outlets, and not just exclusivity to publish, but exclusivity to consider what you're sending them.

 

Timeframes and Follow Up Emails for Op-Ed Requests · [22:49]

 

Will Barron:

Okay. Is that the timeframe we're looking at, and is this something that we follow up on because sales people, our job is to follow up right, and to make deals happen. Or are you kind of biting yourself, kicking yourself in the ass that if you do that, and they're just going to block your email and you'll never get a contact from them again?

 

Dustin Siggins:

I've had both reactions, frankly. Most people are more appreciative. What you have to do is give them, let's say 24 hours. “It's yours until 9:00 Eastern on Wednesday”. Either late before the end of the workday today or very early tomorrow, I'm following up with an email. “Hey, wanted to follow up. This piece is still yours. We're excited to see it get published. What do you need from us to make it a great fit?” If they don't hear back, you should have a couple of other outlets ready to go as soon as you hit that deadline. You don't want to break the deadline because if you do and they say yes, you might have burned that bridge.

 

How to Measure Earned Media Value and Op-Ed Success Rates · [23:45]

 

Will Barron:

Sure. I know the answer is it depends, clearly, but what is the success rate in something like this? Again we can use the example of me because it's more finite variables here, but if I was to reach out to someone like one of the brands that we've talked about, a major organisation, is this something that I have to do every week and for two years and one of them gets submitted, and it's worth it? Or is this something that it might take a decade to get your foot in the door?

 

Dustin Siggins:

That's a really good question. The simple answer is it's going to take a while because unless you have people who know that outlet, I know one particular individual who he charges thousands of dollars to write one piece and get it published, and it's because he used to be a very senior speechwriter for a very influential individual. He has gotten people published in the Wall Street Journal and in the New York Times, with no edits from the editor. He is the top tier of writing and placement people. You can pay him thousands of dollars. If you don't want to, then you just have to keep trying.

 

“The advantage of earned media is you don't have to aim for the big dogs first, and you probably shouldn't because you're going to read them, you're going to write your piece, and you're going to think they look the same. Just like a white belt who's trying to do a spinning side kick thinks they did it really well until they become a blue belt and now they go, “That was terrible. Why did I think that was a good kick four belts ago?” – Dustin Siggins · [24:55] 

 

Dustin Siggins:

The advantage of earned media is you don't have to aim for the big dogs first, and you probably shouldn't because you're going to read them, you're going to write your piece, and you're going to think they look the same. Just like a white belt who's trying to do a spinning side kick thinks they did it really well, until they become a blue belt and now they go, “That was terrible. Why did I think that was a good kick four belts ago?”

 

Dustin Siggins:

As you get published, let's say, in Entrepreneur. Then you're going to get published at Forbes. Building into the business community. After a year, now you've built credibility. I spoke with a potential client. They didn't end up signing with us, who they were a conservative political group. They wanted to get published at the Washington Post, but they didn't have any serious press behind them. They were a small group, kind of an also-ran conservative group. My suggestion was that they aim for state publications where they have a lot of bills introduced so they can show leadership on the state level. Once you do that four or five times, they get the Columbus Dispatch or the Salt Lake City Tribune publishing you, now you go to the Washington Post with four months of op-eds behind you, bills introduced, co-authoring with members of the state legislatures. Now you'll be considered a more serious candidate.

 

Will Barron:

I'll give a bit of context here. This is absolute ridiculous versus what we've been talking about, but it might be useful for the audience.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Sure.

 

Will Barron:

In my hometown in the UK, it's called St. Allen. They have a local newspaper, it's a free newspaper. I think it's delivered everywhere. I've been featured in that a bunch of times because, this is ridiculous. My mom's passed away now, but my mom years ago would mention us and basically pitch me to the editors there, and the business would go from, “Oh, this new podcast.” This is when you had to explain what a podcast was, five, six years ago. “This podcast is doing 1,000 downloads a week,” and everyone would be like, “Oh, hey!” It was a tiny little post in the… It was just embarrassing more than anything else. It was just my mom being unsubjectively proud, just overly proud from this non-achievement.

 

Will Barron:

Then it was in there again. 10,000 downloads an episode. “Oh, hey!” It became an ongoing joke, right? I'm being flippant here because I'm sure there's someone working for the St. Allen Star who's doing their best, and now there's local news. People in my high school, people who know the Barron family would have gone, “Oh, that's interesting,” as I said, because it's a tiny publication.

 

Earned Media Strategies for Growing Brand Credibility · [27:26] 

 

Will Barron:

Say we get something like that. We're starting at the very ground floor of media. What do we do then, Dustin, to document this as we go hopefully up through the ranks? Because it's one thing I guess to, if you look at someone like Mark Cuban, he's been covered that much that he has no idea what he's even… He's probably got his own PR team keeping track of the coverage, right, but if we were to go from the St. Allen Star to the local reporter to the Liverpool Echo, which is slightly bigger, to I don't know, some other half nonsense-free newspaper. How do we track all this, and how do we use that in our own promotional material to go up the food chain? Are we just mentioning it? Do we need to stick it on our website? What do we need to do?

 

Dustin Siggins:

One thing we haven't talked about with earned media so far is press releases and one-on-one pitches to reporters. We've talked a lot about op-eds because frankly that's the easiest way to explain your thoughts in your own words, even if it's hard to get published. Press releases are another way. You've hit a milestone. You see this on prnewswire.com a lot. Publicly owned companies will just announce their quarterly results, or they hired somebody new. When I was working for a trade association, me being hired resulted in a press release and several industry trade publications republished the press release.

 

Dustin Siggins:

For a small organisation, it's obviously a multi-tiered strategy, but one of the things you may want to do is have a press release targeted to, let's say you're starting off, and yes, you're a business podcast, but really your listenership is local, regional. Okay, so now you go for the regional pub. You get them once or twice, and maybe a new blog covers you, to a press release. You're announcing the launch of the Salesman Podcast. You're announcing the launch. All your friends get excited. The local news cares because you're a local person, and now that's going to go on your website. That's going to go on your social media. You're going to tag them, thank them, all the normal things there. Then a year later, you have 10,000 downloads. Now you're going to announce, “We've hit a milestone,” or “We've had a major guest. We had our first major guest.”

 

Dustin Siggins:

Now you're going to not just do local. Now you're going to reach for those audiences that that guest is influential in. Now you've expanded a little bit. You might only get one or two pieces of coverage, but now you're growing that brand in the press and growing that credibility because what you can't do is let it sit. I personally have been published probably 3,500 times between political and business. If I didn't get published for a year, not that anyone really cares what I say anyway, but if they did, then it wouldn't be relevant.

 

Dustin Siggins:

If I had pitched to you all, I don't remember what my pitch was to you all exactly, but I bet if I hadn't been published at PR Week and O'Dwyer's and other publications, you would have said, “Cool, another pitch from a guy who has no idea. We have no idea if he's credible or not.” You've never seen me on a podcast talking about earned media. This is my first one. But you saw my material. You saw that I knew what I was talking about, and that allowed you to gain trust that I was credible.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah, and I think it's worth bringing it back to this point, Dustin, of what I believe we're trying to do here is differentiate ourselves, right? If we're in a marketplace and most products are very similar. They might be slightly different prices, but if it's a BMW or a Mercedes, if it's Salesforce or HubSpot, whatever it is, there'll be different segments of the market that they're targeted towards. You might like one brand over the other. You might have a slightly better customer support, but any decent company, and then when you get into the enterprise it's even more so, they're all very similar. I feel like trust is the differentiator.

 

Will Barron:

Again, I really strongly feel, and I feel it even more so after the conversation so far, Dustin, that if I was dealing with Salesperson A and Salesperson B, and Salesperson A had been published in this, been on this podcast. I can see them. I can do my research before I call them, and their LinkedIn profile has 5,000 followers and all this, and Salesperson B has been in their job for six weeks, I'm just going to buy from Salesperson A. I'm not even going to consider the other person. I just wanted to reiterate that because we could go on all kinds of tangents with this conversation.

 

The Power of Positive Brand Association in B2B Sales · [32:08] 

 

Will Barron:

One tangent I do want to go on is I feel like I've missed out on a whole lot of opportunities for media and press and publication after our conversation, one of which, a few years ago we did a big project with HubSpot. You have to remind me, you said a website. It is PR Newswire?

 

Dustin Siggins:

Correct.

 

Will Barron:

We were all over that with HubSpot saying that, “It's a no-brainer to work with Will Barron,” and this and that. They published it. It had nothing to do with us. If you do get perhaps someone else mentioning you, even if it's you do something great and they cover it, how can you leverage the brand association from someone else?

 

“Someone else talking about you, that is way more credible than you talking about yourself.” – Dustin Siggins · [32:35] 

 

Dustin Siggins:

This is my favourite thing to talk about, actually, because this is almost like a bank shot branding opportunity. Someone else is talking about you. That is way more credible than you talking about yourself. 

 

“Edelman, which is the world's largest PR firm, did a survey of people, and they found that 51% of consumers increase their trust in your brand after reading something positive. 44% will lose trust if they read something negative. Bospar, which is in the technology space, did a national poll, found that 19% of consumers will visit your website after seeing you mentioned once in the press, and 85% after seeing you mentioned 10 times.” – Dustin Siggins  · [32:45] 

 

Dustin Siggins:

You mentioned trust, right? Edelman, which is the world's largest PR firm, did a survey of people, and they found that 51 per cent of consumers increase their trust in your brand after reading something positive. 44 per cent will lose trust if they read something negative. Bospar, which is in the technology space, did a national poll, found that 19 per cent of consumers will visit your website after seeing you mentioned once in the press, and 85 per cent after seeing you mentioned 10 times.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Let's say you're in PR Newswire. That's going to get republished several to several dozen or a couple hundred times. At the very least, it gets you lots of SEO, even if the republishings aren't necessarily read themselves, like getting quoted in an Associated Press article. But you take that, now you should have your own press release that you're sending to your own list, and you're quoting that person, whoever your partner is. You're going to quote your partner. Now you have two different-

 

Will Barron:

I'll give you some context here because-

 

Dustin Siggins:

Go. Go.

 

Will Barron:

… we might do sales [inaudible 00:33:43] point in the future. This is why I'm asking the question.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Sure, yeah.

 

Will Barron:

It was the VP of marketing over there who said very literally, “It's a no-brainer to work with Will Barron and his audience,” yada yada.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Right, great. That's your subject line. What's the name of the company that you worked with?

 

Will Barron:

HubSpot.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Hopspot.

 

Will Barron:

Hub. H-U-B, spot.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Oh, excuse me, it's the accent. HubSpot. “HubSpot VP: No-brainer to work with Will Barron.” Now you talk about it, and that's your press release. That goes on your website. That goes out to your media list that you've developed. It goes on your social media. You'd want to get a quote from that VP of marketing in your press release, see if they'll promote it to their networks. You also want to then see if, what else can you create? Can you do a video together about why it's a no-brainer, the value that you brought to HubSpot? Then what that does too is if you go to conferences and whatnot, they're going to see that. Everyone at the business conference is going to see that. It turns from a cold, “Hello, hi, my name's Will Barron,” into what I call a warm conversation. Not hot, but it's definitely a warm introduction.

 

Dustin Siggins:

“Oh yeah, didn't I see that you worked with HubSpot?”

 

“Partnerships create not just twice the value, but they create exponentially more value for your brand and your project.” – Dustin Siggins · [35:07] 

 

Dustin Siggins:

“Yeah, their VP of marketing was so generous. He said it was a no-brainer to work us. We had a great time working with them.” Now we're off and running. That's really what… A lot of people miss out on those opportunities. I'm glad you mentioned it because partnerships create not just twice the value, but they create exponentially more value for your brand and your project.

 

Should Salespeople Working for Large PR Firms Get the Organisation to Promote their Personal Brand when They Close Large Deals? · [35:15] 

 

Will Barron:

Sure. The reason I ask, other than just to get some coaching from you live on the show, the other reason I ask this, if we're working as a salesperson for a large enterprise brand who are doing PR press releases all the time, and they've probably got their on PR team, should we be, as an employee, trying to get in with them and get them to promote us when we land a massive contract or we do something? Should we be trying to get them to name us in press releases when partnerships are formed with organisations and things like that? Is that something that they would do?

 

Dustin Siggins:

Possibly. I can't speak with… To your answer from earlier, it depends, right? Because salespeople are notoriously considered self-centred. They want the attention on themselves. They're type A people. That's the reputation, so it depends on what your place is in your company. If you're a senior sales person and everyone likes you, maybe mentioning you.

 

Dustin Siggins:

But the company's brand is more important, so you definitely want to talk to your PR team and say, “Hey guys.” Maybe you sit down with coffee and say, “Hey, what can I do to help you? These are the three things we're lacking in terms of brand credibility.” Great. You land the contract, you go to them and say, “Hey guys. I got this contract. This is what it is. I've talked to their VP of marketing. He says he's happy to do a statement with us for a press release.” Your PR team is going to love you. Now, you may not be getting the press yourself, but you're creating more value internally for your career, and frankly if you don't ask for your name, the one time you do, they might say yes.

 

Will Barron:

Got it.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Or you might say, go ahead.

 

How to Create an Internal Op-Ed that Gains you Internal Credibility and Enhances your Thought Leadership Status · [37:12]

 

Will Barron:

I had to interrupt. I love this because I feel like we've gone in lots of different directions. I feel like this is really tangible for the audience because maybe they don't want to put your name on the press release, but when the press release is published, you can then do your own mini press release saying, “that was my deal.”

 

Dustin Siggins:

Right, correct.

 

Will Barron:

Does that make sense?

 

Dustin Siggins:

If they let you, of course. The other thing too though is you may be able to do an internal op-ed, or maybe it's on the company blog. “Why we're so happy to work with XYZ Company.” Anyone can author that. It can be Proven Media Solutions, or it can be Dustin Siggins, CEO of Proven Media Solutions. Or it can be, “When I first met such and such, this is our relationship, and now we've signed a contract.” You can do almost an internal op-ed that gains you credibility internally and puts your name out there that you can then push onto your social media and your email newsletter or whatever else you have.

 

Will Barron:

Got it. That makes total sense. We'll wrap up here, Dustin, because I feel like we could do a follow-up episode on this. I'm going to actually experiment with some of the things we've talked about, so it would be good to have you back on in the future.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Sure.

 

Will Barron:

Perhaps and look where I've got completely wrong and fell flat on my face and gotten no benefits from any of it. We can use me as a guinea pig, but I do feel, and again, I do want to reiterate to sales nation, the audience, that I feel this is where sales is going. I feel like we're going to have sales people who just mucks. We're going to have sales people who are “thought leaders,” influencers, however you want to describe them. They're going to be the highly paid individuals. They're going to be the real industry experts, and they're going to be the individuals that brands roll out at conferences to speak, and they're going to reinvest in you.

 

Will Barron:

I feel like as you describe, then, if you go to a PR team and start positioning yourself as these individuals internally, because why does a company want to go and pay an influencer like me a load of cash to sponsor the podcast when they can build this brand, they can build this content themselves? That's where all this is going to go eventually.I feel like there's a tonne of value in this episode, Dustin. I appreciate your time-

 

Dustin Siggins:

Thank you.

 

Parting Thoughts · [38:48] 

 

Will Barron:

… and your insights on this, mate. With that, tell us where we can find out more about you and where we can get involved with you if you feel like that might be the next step.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Sure. Our website is provenmediasolutions.net. That's where our blog posts live. It's where our testimonials live. It's where our services live. We actually would love to have some people come visit us in January especially. We're relaunching our site, and we're relaunching with specifically more of a long form blog, but it dives deep into business concepts like, “Don't be lucky, be ready for chance,” and other things that are sort of counterintuitive to a lot of the business community.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. Well, I'll link to the website, and then everything else that we talked about in this episode over at salesman.org in the show notes. With that, Dustin, I want to thank you again for your time. I want to thank you for coming on the show because this is mixing two worlds that I think are going to collide in the future together, so I appreciate the hustle on that, mate. I want to thank you again for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Dustin Siggins:

Thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun.

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