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Earned Media

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What Is Earned Media?

Earned Media is any media or press coverage that’s generated organically without your company directly purchasing it. Some common examples of earned media include social media shares, press mentions earned through media outreach, and organic search traffic.

Why Earned Media Is A Good Thing

Nielsen’s 2015 Global Trust in Advertising report stated that, as a result of its independent nature, earned media is the most trustworthy type of advertising. They found 83% of people trust recommendations they receive from family and friends, and in the modern digital world, that trust can extend to review sites, the news media, or social influencers.

For example, The Wirecutter is a New York Times-owned website that is solely dedicated to product reviews, with complete transparency surrounding the criteria by which they compare products. As opposed to trying to promote products they have a vested commercial interest in, they are only concerned with informing readers about the best products in a field.

How to Earn Media

How your company approaches earned media will likely be contingent on your business offerings. While not every channel or strategy will fit every company, as with all marketing efforts, experimentation and iteration are the key.

Press Releases

Historically speaking, press releases have been one of the most effective channels for earning media coverage. That said, they’re not as essential for generating media mentions as they used to be.

Many businesses will issue press releases to share exciting news, research findings, new features, important hires, etc. and having media organizations pick up on the news will give your business exposure to a much wider audience.

However, the true value of a press release is not the writing or the sending, but in the follow-up, and in establishing relationships with journalists, hosts, and producers. One great press release with significant follow-up will get much more attention than ten press releases with none.

Media Outreach

Instead of relying on a press release syndication platform like PR Newswire to distribute your news, companies are finding success going straight to the source.

When you have research findings or news that would make for a great story, instead of taking the press release route—you can search for journalists who’ve covered similar topics in the past, find their contact information and reach out directly.

Share the findings or news in a short email, lead with the hook (why they should care), and make yourself available for a call or follow up questions.

And don’t forget to follow up.

You aren’t going to have a 100% success rate, but earning a single mention in a major publication like Fast Company or Inc.com could have a significant impact on your business.

Organic Search Traffic:

When someone has questions about a topic or pain they’re looking to solve, Google is usually their first destination.

If you’re ranking near the top of the first page with an answer to their question, your chances of bringing them to your website organically (without having to pay for Google Ads) are high.

To get started, review your most popular pages and blog posts to make sure they’re up-to-speed on SEO best practices. From there, use a tool like Ahrefs or Moz to monitor how your content is performing over time.

Social Media Shares

When other people share things that you have created to add value to your audience, whether that’s a blog post, webinar, ebook, infographic, or other type of content, it qualifies as earned media.

Even if you have paid for a piece of content’s creation and been proactive in its distribution, you, in a sense, give up control of who it is shared with or by as soon as it is public. One of the most surefire ways to extend the life of a piece of content is to retweet or share when people mention it, and don’t be afraid to engage them in conversation about what they liked or didn’t.

Instead of creating an awesome piece of content that you use once and then consign to the back corners of your website, view everything you create as living and malleable. The more valuable people find your content, the more likely they are to share it, so aim to create the maximum amount of value you can.

The Role Of Influencers

While the exact criteria for the definition of an influencer changes across industries, they’re generally celebrities or other well-known figures with significant social media followings.

On the surface, earned media and influencer marketing are quite similar: It’s someone enjoying and advocating for a product or service. That said, if you’re paying the influencer to talk about you, they’ll have to disclose that they have been paid for their endorsement.

Influencer marketing can make the leap to earned media through social sharing, and if the content you’re creating is high quality and your investing time into content distribution, this does happen.

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