When people think about digital PR and earned media, they often think about press releases and other hard-earned, explicit references about a company or its product/service.
There’s certainly a place for this in any strategy, especially for newer brands who want folks to know they exist and what they offer.
But many marketing and PR programs stop there and miss out on the countless benefits of more organic news placements, designed to build brand familiarity and authority to drive long-term success—often referred to as "top-of-the-funnel” media mentions.
Read on to discover these benefits and how they can amplify your organic growth.
What do top-of-the-funnel media mentions look like?
The first stage of the consumer journey is the awareness stage; this is the “top of the funnel.” At this stage, consumers are exploring a new topic and are early in their decision-making or purchasing journey.
They are more concerned with getting credible or useful information from reliable sources.
For the consumer, they are looking to learn—but are most likely not ready to be hit with outright marketing of a product or service. This is an ideal place for a brand with expertise to provide value to readers and engage them with information that can inform their early familiarity with a product space.
This is where the top-of-the-funnel media mentions come in.
Top-of-the-funnel mentions help introduce your product/brand to new audiences. It involves creating newsworthy content that is relevant to your business but isn’t focused on promoting your brand.
In taking this approach, you can earn coverage from relevant media outlets that your target audience visits, so when it comes to the consideration stage of the journey, your brand will be at the front of mind.
For example, an article we created in partnership with Sunday Citizen that was featured in the Chicago Tribune covers how remote work has affected sleep. Sunday Citizen, a site that sells sleepwear and beddings, would find it extremely difficult to get coverage in the Chicago Tribune if they were talking specifically about their products.
By taking this newsworthy approach and creating content based on trending news (remote working), we were able to create content that is tangentially relevant to their business to get national media coverage.
Advantages of top-of-the-funnel media mentions
Top-of-the-funnel media mentions aren’t designed to drive leads or new business. However, they have four crucial benefits that every marketer cares about.
In an ever-crowded marketing space, new businesses and brands especially have to grapple with being unknown and unfamiliar. If the consumer is unaware of your brand, then they can’t search for you or consider you for a purchase.
When a brand is able to provide data analysis or reports to a publisher, they’re often cited high up in the article, which is extremely difficult to achieve otherwise and a great way to improve the chances someone actually sees the brand mention.
Brand awareness may seem like a vanity metric, but it has an immense impact on your bottom line. Why? Marketing isn’t a one-and-done effort; potential consumers and clients have to have seen or interacted with your brand multiple times before they’re ready to convert. In fact, it takes 6 to 8 marketing touches before someone is likely to become a sales lead.
By securing a media mention, you’re ensuring one of the times someone sees your brand, you’re being associated with quality content.
Brand awareness also fosters brand loyalty amongst existing customers ensuring that they choose the brand and stick with it longer than other lesser-known competitors. Research shows that repeat customers are more likely to convert and spend more on each visit.
Brand authority is the perceived expertise of your brand. It is not something a brand can declare, but rather a reputation to earn. A company has high brand authority when consumers see it as trustworthy, authoritative, able to demonstrate thought leadership or expertise, and consistently producing products/services of high quality.
Building brand authority along with brand awareness is one way to improve the chances of future conversions because business patronage increases as the trust for a brand does.
According to consumer affinity research conducted by Conductor, consumers who read a brand’s educational content were 131% more likely to purchase from that brand.
Earned media coverage is a great way to build authority. When a brand’s content gets published, it gets cited as the source. The brand then earns credibility and trust because of its association with an authoritative media outlet and the fact that it put together a report, analysis, or study based on data.
Being able to showcase the logos of sites where you have earned a feature, or a mention is another great way to signpost your trust signals and increase the potential for customers to convert.
Having high-quality links is an important authority signal to search engines. This is like having famous influential friends vouch for you. The credibility and authority they have will rub off on you, further boosting your credibility and in this case your rankings.
According to Google, a link from a prominent website is often a good sign that the information on the site being linked to is well trusted. This is one of several factors it uses to evaluate the quality and trustworthiness of a piece of content.
Media mentions are a great way to earn high-quality links because most sites will link back to the source of the content that it publishes. Imagine San Francisco Chronicle or the Chicago Tribune linking back to your site — for respected publications like those to trust your information enough to talk about it and then link back to you is a huge authority signal.
At Stacker Studio, we create the content on our brand partners’ behalf and then distribute it out through our newswire. Here are some example media pickups we earned for our brand partner Pyn:
Earning links helps your site earn credibility and increase the chances of your pages ranking in the search engine results pages (or SERPs). Of course, achieving high-value links isn’t easy.
That’s why it’s critical not to overlook top-of-the-funnel media mentions and their capacity to drive highly valuable links to your site.
It is difficult to build links to bottom-of-the-funnel , key conversion pages (like product pages). This is because media outlets have no incentive to promote your product if you do not pay them for the exposure.
So, if you’re earning links to more educational/information content on your site, you can utilize internal linking to distribute some of that link equity to other important, high-value pages.
Internal linking is a crucial way of getting Google to understand not only the structure of your website but the value of the pages. If a page does not have internal links pointing to it, it becomes orphan within the structure of the website. It is also a signal that the page has very little value and so it will not get crawled often. Adding links from highly visited or linked to pages is a great way to pass link equity to pages with low visibility.
John Muller restated this in a webmaster Q&A:
Putting it all together
Earning top of funnel media mentions is key to increasing brand awareness and building brand authority. Building links from high-authority websites can also help you increase your site authority and ranking, resulting in better ROI from your marketing strategy.