BOCA Speaks with Industry Expert Sam Whitmore

Recently, the BOCA team met with Sam Whitmore of Sam Whitmore Media Survey (SWMS) to discuss what he does and how we can apply those services to the needs of our clients. Following is a summary of our discussion.


What Is Media Survey + Greenlighting?

Putting it simply, the purpose of Media Survey is, in Sam’s words, “to study what works in the news. Who are the influencers crafting the content? How is the content drawing readers and why are they clicking?”

Sam spoke a fair amount about greenlighting, which is when a reporter gets editorial permission to move a story forward.

  • What are the stories popping in the news cycles?
  • What are industries covering?
  • How can a company leverage greenlighted stories to help guide its content and media strategies?

By looking at the kinds of articles that are greenlighted, we can better understand the news and publishers. Sam stated that communication experts must ensure their research is spot on and that it informs thinking. They must ensure their clients are educated on the trends and the importance of keeping current with news cycles.

Sam also discussed trying to get in the heads of those people running the publications — they are both editorial and business people. Understanding the content written by reporters and driving forces behind the publishers will make us all better communication practioners.

Earned vs. Paid Media

During our conversation, Sam also took us through the topic of earned versus paid media. Rather than thinking in terms of “versus,”  Sam said we should think in terms of “and.” The right combination of “earned and paid” media is something all organizations should be incorporating into its communication strategies.

Most of us know this, but to ensure we are on the same page, earned media is defined as content that a company has written and placed in free mediums such as its own blog, website and press releases, as well as with reporters that write articles that are published on their sites. These outlets may be business press like Barron’s and New York Times or IT trades such as The New Stack.

Basically, earned media includes:

  • PR efforts
  • Working with influencers for free
  • Reviews of your products or overall business
  • Advocates who share posts online

Earned media is, for the most part, preferred. However, paid content has its place in the PR landscape.

So, when is paid media resourceful?

For companies creating a new category, breaking into new markets, striving for new buyers or even recruiting, paid engagements are a path forward. It is easier and more expensive to promote the brand; however, a brand can control the narrative, allowing organizations to have complete control over its message.

Having the Right Mix of Content 

Our discussion with Sam also touched on the right mix of content, from short-tail pieces and long-form content to short Twitter statements and visuals.

There will always be a place for long-tail content — research based in deep thinking and analytics. We usually see this in the form of research reports and whitepapers. We also live in a world where TikTok, YouTube, Twitch and X have shown us the power of short, to-the-point statements plus visual images. Understanding the right mix for the right audience for both earned and paid media is key.

The Takeaways

  • The timing for content and its publication are incredibly important. A brand wants to stand out in the crowd and differentiate, also while paying attention to the trends.
  • Understand reporters and their publishers. When we have a client’s story to share, it is up to us to know who and how to engage to create positive outcomes.
  • Create the right mix of content for your different audiences and determine if paid media is the right approach.

There is always more for us to know about our own industry, and talks like these at BOCA help keep us learning and growing as marketing communication professionals. Having resources like SWMS allows us to optimize our own work and that of our clients. This was an incredible opportunity for us to gain valuable insights. Thank you, Sam, for your time. We always enjoy the banter.


About BOCA Communications 

BOCA Communications is an award-winning marketing communications and PR agency that caters to B2B tech and digital health innovators. From VC-backed startups to global, publicly traded companies, BOCA is proud of its client roster and long-standing partnerships. BOCA integrates inbound marketing and RevOps principles into its digital PR offerings, helping marketers reach their goal of driving business impact through brand awareness for customer conversion.

BOCA’s services are curated to deliver measurable results that build brands, drive profitability and ultimately grow our clients’ businesses.

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