Your audience has AirPods in

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I’m writing this on a plane to North Carolina. And something is really standing out to me this spring as I’m traveling to deliver live training events.

It drives home an important truth that most of the people at those events don’t seem to appreciate yet, whether their emphasis is media relations or content or something in between.

Until a few years ago, the FAA had a rule that you couldn’t wear headphones during the final approach to landing. Flight attendants would come around and tap on your shoulder.

So the headphones would come off, and you’d actually start chatting with the people sitting nearby. Don’t worry – I’m not that guy who sits next to you on a flight and tries to talk to you the whole time. (I’ve sat next to him a few times, though). If my seatmates seemed interested in engaging, I enjoyed getting to know them for the final few minutes of the flight.

But now that the FAA abandoned that rule, the headphones and earbuds stay in, all the way to the gate. My last roundtrip I noticed my seatmates took it one step further. They got to my row with AirPods already in and immersed themselves in their phones right away.

I was sitting two inches from them, but I might as well have been hundreds of miles away. Let’s say I had something important to share with them. If my message wasn’t showing up in the podcast they were listening to, or the BuzzFeed roundup they were scrolling through, or the email newsletter they were checking (yes, I was snooping glances at their consumption), they weren’t going to get it. Didn’t want it.

Here’s my point for you: every person you are trying to reach is figuratively wearing AirPods. Your messaging could be right next to them, but they’ll never notice it.

Not unless you identify and target the third-parties they are already engaged with, whether those are traditional media or somebody else’s “owned” content. Place a guest on that podcast. Do a content partnership with the email newsletter they receive. Get some of your content picked up by the media outlets they actually subscribe to.

And then use that exposure to win them over as a subscriber to YOUR podcast or email newsletter or Instagram feed or whatever platform you’ve built.

Simply pushing out content to your existing audiences won’t cut it. Neither will earning coverage in the same media outlets you always have (let’s face it, you choose those primarily because they’re the ones your executives consume).

We need to earn our way into communication vehicles produced by third-parties our audiences already trust. Whether those third-parties are media or other companies or thought leaders or whatever.

That’s what we’ve been emphasizing inside the Smart PR Inner Circle this year. We’ve been looking at identifying influencers, integrating earned media with owned and shared, as well as the latest pitching techniques that are just as likely to win over another company’s content marketer as they will a traditional magazine editor.

In the next few months I’ll be sharing insights about content promotion, earned media amplification, even using paid techniques to land squarely within the very narrow field of view that your potential audience has.

When we next accept new enrollments, I’m going to offer a couple bonuses only to people who are on our wait list. If you’re already one of my subscribers, you can simply click here to join that list. Otherwise, you can join it here.

And when this flight lands in Raleigh, I’ll see if I can at least get a smile and a nod from this guy next to me 🙂

This article was originally published on Apr 10, 2019.