I have no doubt you’ve heard the saying that something is both a blessing and a curse. Third-party validation fits this statement well. When public relations professionals are able to get third-party media to talk about their company or client, it’s a huge blessing. I’d liken dealing with third parties and justifying all the work it takes as a curse of sorts.
What is it?
For those who aren’t aware, third-party validation is one of the most time consuming but rewarding parts of public relations. Investopedia defines it as a method of spreading messages on a clients’ behalf. These messages need to come from reliable and independent sources. One example would be getting the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Dallas mentioned in a story by the Dallas morning news. However, this isn’t the only example. Blogger Frank Strong also mentioned being asked to speak at conferences as third-party validation. He listed social media engagement, specifically likes, retweets and reviews as validation as well.
Why is it important?
Third-party validation gives the company, brand or client valuable credibility it cannot gain on its own. If I sat here and told you that my cooking was amazing, you wouldn’t take me as seriously as you might someone else who’s eaten my food. Why is that? Everyone has some sort of bias, but that third-party person isn’t as biased. Pamela Bartlett explained on PR Newswire, “When a third party, such as the media, endorses a product or service, the company gains credibility.”
I also want to reference my first article about the honesty problem in public relations. The public’s perception about public relations isn’t wonderful. Granted, we’ve done it to ourselves. We are fixing it, but it will take a lot of time. We aren’t seen as very credible when people think we’re biased and dishonest.
How does it work?
In general, third-party validation comes when PR professionals have worked with a public, typically the media, by sending information. That’s the purpose of press releases, media advisories and fact sheets, etc. That media organization, such as the Dallas Morning News, takes the information they deem worthy and mention it in the publication. Authors Gibbs and Soell made several excellent points: that third party needs to be credible, you need to have important information, send it to the right people and form relationships with those parties. They also wrote that relations like these need to be proactive and continuous.
How is it a curse?
Third-party validation can be a curse because you have no promise that anyone will find your information important. That’s why it’s vital to know where to send the information and what that party finds important. So many people waste hours of time sending out frivolous information, or sending it to the wrong people.
It is also a curse because you have no control over what the third party says. Once public relations professionals send out information, the party has complete control over what is said. That’s what makes it credible, but also what makes it so nerve wracking.
In the end, earning third-party validation is more good than bad. The important thing is do make sure there is not any easy way to take the information you’ve given and turn it into something that will damage reputation. As Joseph Hall once said, “A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.”