Earned media is publicity gained through promotional efforts other than paid media advertising, something you earn organically when people start talking about you. (Hopefully in a good way!) In other words, earned media is shared by word of mouth. Most commonly this happens through getting information to journalists.
Earned media can take several different forms – from blogs, to social media sharing, to press mentions and publicity from media outlets -- all of which can be helpful in getting your brand and content to the right audience.
I want to focus on earned media through publicity and media outlets, which comes with both pros and cons.
Today, earning media coverage is more difficult than ever. Journalists cover multiple beats and platforms and they are receiving more pitches than ever. This type of media also means you have the least control over the outcome and can risk bringing up negative publicity. It also takes time and effort up front. However, if you are willing to invest the benefits can be exponential, including increasing your credibility, heightening your brand awareness and significantly expanding your reach.
It’s important to not only make sure your message is getting to the right journalists but also that the earned media your company or client receives is always as positive as possible. One way to achieve this is to focus on managing and controlling the message you put out. Take the time to think strategically, create and put together the content you want to share. Plan ahead, then you can focus on getting your content in front of others.
Now that you have your content, how do you pique interest and get yourself media coverage? Journalists and newsrooms are spread thin, so they are picky about who and what they cover. First, it is important to develop a rapport. This means building a relationship, sending friendly emails and check-ins, or meeting for coffee or lunch. Putting in this extra effort to get reporters and journalists interested is well worth the extra effort.
In addition to building and maintaining relationships with media outlets, send out a press release. Make it memorable so it doesn’t get pushed aside with all the other releases that end up in their inbox. Choose journalists who cover your topic area. Make personal calls, offer as much information as possible and offer to answer any questions they may have.
While earned media can be time consuming, obtaining it helps expand your reach and build a level of trust with your audience. Earned media placement through trusted media outlets, especially local and community-centered outlets, validates your message and builds your credibility.