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When It Comes to PR, If Something Seems Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is

Published: November 30, 2021       Updated: June 16, 2024

4 min read

Scrolling through an Instagram feed today is a lot like driving on the highway and seeing a line of billboards that stretches over the horizon. There are endless ads—often eerily well-targeted.

The Brand Featured Pitch

One ad I’ve seen many times is for a company called Brand Featured, which targets small businesses and ecommerce stores. Here’s a partial transcript from the video ad (featuring a young spokesmodel who is popular on Fiverr):

So why aren’t people buying? One reason is a lack of trust.

If your website does not have enough five-star reviews or trust elements, visitors won’t trust you enough to buy. But if they don’t buy, you can’t get those five-star reviews in the first place. 

This negative loop can stop you from growing your business.

But there’s actually a really easy way out of this, and it only takes five minutes to do.

Imagine if on your website you could have the phrase “As Seen On” big news sites like NBC, CBS, FOX and more. You’d get a huge boost in credibility resulting in more sales for your business.

At Brand Featured, we do exactly that. We’ll write an article about your company and publish it to our wide network of over 100 news sites, including affiliates of NBC, CBS, FOX and more. 

Once your article is published, you’ll be able to proudly say “As Seen On” these authority news sites.

Trust Signal or Trust Killer?

You know what they say: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What Brand Featured, BrandPush and services like it do is simply distribute a press release that is syndicated across many news sites. Your story has not been “selected” by affiliates of NBC, CBS or FOX; these sites and others publish thousands of newswire press releases every day. It’s an automated service. No one at NBC, CBS or FOX is reading it or vetting it before it is published—and no credibility is actually conferred. 

In fact, there is typically a disclaimer under the headline that says the news outlet “was not involved in the creation of this content.”

That’s why it “takes only five minutes to do.”

Brand Featured's press release announcing its own service is an example of how it works. The release got picked up by the local CBS affiliate in Reno, Nevada, among scores of others. From Brand Featured's perspective, that gives it the right to slap a CBS logo on its homepage and claim it as a form of third-party validation.

BrandPush, an Estonia-based competitor of Brand Featured, has an identical pitch. "Get Featured On NBC, CBS, FOX And 200 News Sites," its homepage headline proclaims. But as this service comparison explains, BrandPush and Brand Featured are not much different from other low-cost press release distribution services like PRWeb, eReleases, EIN Presswire, PRLeap and others.

The difference is that these other services don't promote adding "As Seen On" logos to your homepage as the primary purpose of press release distribution. 

Why not?

Because being one of countless companies daily whose press releases are published on news sites through automated syndication is not a true trust signal.

And when your website visitors figure out what you’re doing (i.e., trying to trade on a media brand’s credibility without actually earning it), that can actually become a trust killer for your brand.

No Substitute for Hard Work

It’s understandable why services like Brand Featured exist. Media coverage from well-known outlets confers enormous credibility. And the better aligned those media sources are with your audience, the stronger the trust signal that coverage will send.

But when it comes to earning meaningful editorial coverage from top media outlets, there’s just no getting around it: It’s hard work, and it takes time.

The math is simple. Forty years ago, there was about one PR person for every journalist. By 2010, the ratio stood at four PR people to every journalist. Today, it’s a 6:1 ratio and climbing.

That makes earning media coverage an increasingly tall order.

But that doesn't mean you should try to fake it. You can still earn coverage with great storytelling and targeted pitching

And then you can add that “As Seen On” section to your home page, complete with media logos and links to the coverage you’ve legitimately earned. That’s the right kind of website trust signal to send your visitors.

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