When did you last receive a call from the media asking you to provide an expert opinion to be included in an upcoming article? How about the last time you were invited to speak at a trade show or conference? When was the last time you authored anything that was published (and I’m not talking about an e-mail, memo, or business letter)? If the aforementioned items are not happening regularly, you may miss out on one of the most powerful brand-building opportunities, PR.

It is true that paid advertising is seen for exactly what it is; advertising. However, news, editorial content, and speaking engagements are seen a credible, noteworthy, or prestigious events.

The reality is that both advertising and PR are great venues to build brand equity, and while both clearly represent their own form of “spin,” PR will yield the most significant return on cost.

If you’re confused about where to begin, the following three items will help to jumpstart your PR program:

1. Become an Author:  In the world of research and education, there is an old quote that states: “Publish or Perish.” Being a published author immediately positions you as a subject matter expert and gives you a point of competitive separation over others. Whether you publish blog posts, white papers, magazine or newspaper articles, author an e-mail newsletter, or write a book the returns will be significant.

2. Grow into a Thought Leader: In every industry, sector, vertical, and micro-vertical as thought leaders. These are the media darlings that always seem to get the interview, get quoted, appear on the news, etc. Develop domain expertise and be willing to take a position on things. If you embrace the media, they will embrace you. Get media trained so you know what a reporter, publisher or editor, talk show host, etc., is looking for. Then simply make yourself available to the media and give them what they want.

3. Become a Speaker: Use your subject matter expertise, published work, position within the industry, or prominence within your company to get on the speaking circuit. Speaking engagements lead to more speaking engagements. I have spoken hundreds of times throughout my career, and I’ve yet to have a speaking engagement that didn’t yield a new client, an interview, or another speaking engagement.

Good PR can have a significant, viral leveraging effect in that success in any of the three areas mentioned above will likely result in success in the other two. Dedication to the effort is the key to launching and maintaining a successful PR initiative. You must allocate time and resources to furthering your brand through PR. Block time for writing and prioritize speaking and dealing with media inquiries.