For far too many brands, getting the headline is the goal. They may not “say” that, but the way they operate their communications efforts proves that’s their end game. Why? Because so many brands fumble the ball just before they reach the goal line. Either their plan just stops, or they cede control of the narrative to the media outlet that gave them the coverage.

The truth is, getting the article or other content published is great, but it’s the middle of the program, not the culmination. Sure, it takes a tremendous amount of effort and market understanding to create actionable earned media. But that’s just the first step. You need to be in control of what happens. If you are, you could turn one shared media opportunity into an avalanche of “free” publicity.

Deploy Your Fans

As soon as the earned media is published, and sooner if you can, let your core audience know. Encourage them to read, comment, and share. Incentivize their involvement with connection and other reasons to propagate engagement. Draw them in and make them a part of your efforts. They love what you’re doing, so sharing it with enthusiasm is natural… but many still won’t unless you ask. The main purpose here is to create momentum to build on. Once you have that snowball rolling downhill, getting bigger and bigger, you can move on to step two.

Widen the Ripples

Once your core audience is engaged with the earned media, recruit casual “fans” and interested parties through other connection opportunities. Share it with colleagues, put it out on social media, connect with the fans of the publication or media outlet by thanking them on their social media feed. Be gracious and connective. Stick around and engage. Don’t post and vanish. Just be cautious here. The idea is not really to send people to the article itself. The end goal for this step is to connect people with YOU not the version of you in the article. Give them a reason to want to know more and a place to go to do that.

Connect with Fresh Leads

Once you have fans sharing and customers engaged, that’s the time to engage your newest leads. This is a key reason why you should always maintain multiple mailing lists, based on the level of fan engagement. You should always have a list collecting new and less-engaged customers to help boost your messaging that your inner circle is already actively promoting.

A final note here… While these steps are broken down into distinct segments, that doesn’t imply the speed of the plan. This process may go very quickly, especially on social media. In fact, your window could be less than a day, or only a few hours. In addition, these steps may not be completely distinct. You may want to work in some overlap in the program, letting each step naturally feed into the next one to continue building momentum without allowing a lull.