Is a media placement an implied endorsement? Yes and no.
If the reporter/interviewer gushes and mentions how wonderful the product, service, person or organization is—well, yes, that is an implied endorsement. Maybe, more than implied.
If the article, blog post or broadcast segment is more or less objective, offering information about your client, that’s still an implied endorsement. The coverage indicates that your client is worthy of coverage and that the product, service or event you’re pitching is something that readers, viewers or listeners may want to know about.
Even an “advertorial” placement, as seen in certain print publications, can connote an endorsement by the publication. Although the reader is likely to recognize the advertorial as paid content, its location in the layout indicates that it is editorial content.
How can you know whether editorial coverage will lean favorable, unfavorable or middle-of-the-road? Unless the reporter/interviewer is a close friend or family member, you cannot.
Presuming the media member is not friend/family, it is vital to provide the major message points to all who will encounter the media person. It is also important to make sure the media person has the basic facts. By directing the media member to a page on your website (be it a “press/media/newsroom” page or a simple FAQ page), you can be sure that the media person has access to the most important information. In some cases, it may be better to email an attached fact sheet with the facts that are significant.
It may or may not be true that Henry Ford actually said, “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right.” There may be some, other than reality TV cast members, who feel that way in 2012.
But, in most cases when we seek out media coverage, we want that implied endorsement. We want to build name recognition, but we also want to grow positive perception. We want the love from that media outlet that a 30-second spot or quarter-page print ad just cannot deliver.