How to Use Publicity to Earn Trust (and How Not To!)

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Gaining credibility is one of the greatest benefits of getting coverage in the media. In P.R., we tell people this so often it becomes like a favorite song sung over and over again – eventually, you don’t think much about the words, you just sing them.

Which is why I enjoyed this real-life consumer experience our marketing director, Will Candler, had recently. It breaks down how all of us – as consumers – unconsciously use publicity when evaluating whether or not to do business with a company or individual.

Here’s Will’s story, followed by my tips for using publicity on your website.

Will learned from TV commercials about an online “penny auction” called QuiBids where users can win brand-new goods, from golf clubs to gift cards, for ridiculously low prices.

It sounded really good to Will – but maybe too good to be true. So he headed over to QuiBid’s website to check it out.

“The first thing I saw was a row of logos from Time magazine, USA Today, CNN and other major media,” he says. “I thought, ‘Cool! This is legit!’ ”

A prominently displayed video link took him to a TV news segment from the QuiBids founders’ hometown. The anchor calls the auction site “something new to save some money” and a place “where the deals are always good and sometimes great.”

Quite an endorsement! Will was reaching for his credit card when he clicked on the USA Today logo to learn more.

Nothing happened.

He clicked the other logos. Nothing.

“They weren’t links to content – they were just images,” he says. “For me as a prospective customer, that wasn’t good. Logos by themselves prove nothing. So I was back to being skeptical.”

Up to that point, Will had been acting purely as a consumer. And as such, he says he would’ve walked away then. But as a marketer, he was curious: Had QuiBids lost a customer simply because it failed to share impressive media exposure?

He Googled and found a USA Today story mentioning QuiBids, but not in a good way. The headline; “Don’t gamble on penny auction sites.”

Time magazine’s cautionary column was headlined, “Losing Your Cents.”

The other media included a CNN video that mentions QuiBids in passing – and includes warnings about penny auctions.

From a marketing perspective, QuiBids is doing just what we advise: It’s using its media exposure to establish credibility. But I don’t advise being disingenuous. It may work in the short term, but eventually, consumers will figure you out. And authenticity means everything, especially to that all important Millennial demographic. Lose their trust and you lose their business.

Some other tips for using your publicity online:

  • Do include a link to the content. Most consumers today research before they buy, and they know the difference between a paid ad, a press release, and, of course, good press and negative press. If you feel like the exposure is worth mentioning, then share it. Also, be sure to make a copy of the article or broadcast to keep for yourself, since not all media websites host their content indefinitely.
  • Place your best media prominently on your home page where visitors will see it immediately. Will stayed longer on QuiBid’s website because he immediately saw evidence that it was credible. Having a separate media page to house all of your publicity is a great idea, but don’t hide everything away there!

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  • Update your featured media as often as possible. If all you’ve got is an article or interview from 2007, it’s time to seek more publicity! Consumers will wonder why you’ve been out of the public eye for so long. Generally speaking, featured media should be less than 2 years old. After that, retire it to your media page.
  • Mention your most impressive exposure in the “About” section of your web page. Sometimes, people browsing websites jump straight to page that explains who you are. It usually includes your credentials and perhaps a bit about why you started your business, or what led to your current position. This is a good place to mention prominent media placements because it may help keep your visitors on the page.

By the way, I’m neither endorsing nor bashing QuiBids as a company. I don’t know enough about it or penny auctions!

I share this because it’s an excellent example of how consumers use publicity when deciding who and what to trust. Keep it fresh, authentic and easy to spot, and you’ll give prospective customers good reason to believe in you.

Your fellow consumer,


P.S. Is it time to get some current publicity to put on your website?  Or are you looking for your first media exposure? Either way, we can help. Give us a call at 727.443.7115 ext 208 or start with your Free Media Analysis here.

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