Earned Media

What is Earned Media?

Earned media is any form of publicity, attention, or brand awareness you haven't directly paid for or created yourself. This type of media exposure is generated organically through various channels, making it a powerful tool for authentic brand building.

Here are some typical examples of Earned Media:

  • Customer reviews: These evaluations or feedback come from satisfied customers and are usually posted on third-party platforms like Yelp, Google Reviews, or even social media. 
  • Social mentions: When someone tags your business in a post or tweet, shares your content, or even talks about your products online without you initiating it, that's earned social media.
  • Press coverage: Journalists and bloggers writing unsolicited articles, features, or opinions about your business contribute to your earned media. This is one of the most coveted forms, as it often reaches a broad audience.
  • User-generated content: Sometimes your customers or fans create content about your brand, such as unboxing videos, blog posts, or even memes. 
  • Word-of-mouth: Perhaps the oldest form of earned media involves consumers naturally recommending your products or services to others within their social circles.

Why do you need Earned Media?

First, it serves as social proof, building trust among consumers who often value peer recommendations and independent reviews over branded content. This external validation signals that your product or service is valuable and trustworthy.

Second, earned media is cost-effective in the long run. One positive mention can lead to others, exponentially increasing your brand's visibility and reach without a corresponding hike in marketing expenses. This organic growth often outperforms the reach of paid methods, offering a more sustainable strategy.

Lastly, the credibility gained from earned media can lead to higher conversion rates. A positive review in a reputable outlet often carries more weight than a paid advertisement, making earned media a critical component of an effective marketing strategy.

How to acquire Earned Media

To secure earned media, building strategic relationships is your first step. Connect with industry influencers and journalists, offering them something valuable to create a mutually beneficial relationship.

Then, focus on quality content that resonates with your target audience. Rather than mass-producing content, aim for unique, insightful pieces that make you an attractive source for journalists and influencers seeking fresh perspectives.

Leveraging social media can provide additional avenues to acquire earned media. A consistent, active presence on social platforms allows you to engage directly with your audience and industry leaders. Take advantage of social listening tools to monitor brand and industry conversations; these discussions can offer cues for earned media opportunities. 

Finally, don't underestimate the power of search engine optimization (SEO) in your earned media strategy. Integrate relevant keywords into your content and earn high-quality backlinks to boost your site's authority. Not only does this improve your search rankings, but it also enhances your appeal for earned media coverage.

Earned Media vs. Paid Media: What’s best for you?

Deciding between earned and paid media depends on your specific goals, audience, and available resources. Earned media, generated organically through word of mouth or press coverage, offers credibility and cost-effectiveness but takes time and gives you less control. Paid media, like ads, offers immediate impact and complete control but at a financial cost and with potentially less trust from consumers.

For optimal results, consider an integrated approach that uses paid media for immediate impact and brand awareness, and then transitions to strategies enhancing your potential for earned media. By using paid media to kickstart your brand's visibility and following it up with quality content and relationship-building for earned media, you can create a balanced and effective marketing strategy.

Final words

Earned media is not merely a nice-to-have but an integral part of a holistic media strategy. It offers substantial benefits, from credibility to cost-effectiveness, and should be pursued with the same vigor as paid and owned media channels. By adopting the strategies and considerations mentioned above, you're well on your way to harnessing the full power of earned media.