Earned Media Builds Brand

Earned media is the Holy Grail in the marketing world. It’s credible and influential. It can fuel your social media campaign, which can go viral in the digital world. In reality, earned media is a double-edged sword that some compare to surfing a tsunami—it can make you or break you.

Earned media (content), is material produced about you or your business by an unpaid third party, including mainstream news and main street bloggers. With strategic planning and opportunism, organizations can position themselves for positive media coverage. A seasoned public relations firm can help streamline the process for maximum impact.

The first step is to understand the differences between earned, shared, paid, and owned media.

With owned and paid media, you are in control of the content. With the others, you are counting on influence and performance.

Paid Media: As Forrester puts it, this is paid content as in an advertisement or sponsorship. Common examples of paid media include commercials, print ads, online ads, sponsored blog posts, and sponsored social media posts. Paid media is typically the least trusted form of marketing. For example, Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising found that half of respondents or fewer trusted ads they saw online, whether on videos, in search engine results or on social media. With paid media, you buy access in the form of social ads, PPC programs, etc. to promote your content and brand.

Owned Media: Owned media is anything that your company owns and controls. Owned media includes your brand’s website, blog, social media profiles, catalogs, brochures and videos. Usually, paid and earned media are used to push traffic to your owned media. But, with the popularity of blogs, SEO, and content creation, it’s a lot easier to draw traffic organically.

You can spend a lot of time on your owned media – the content and distribution channels that you control such as your websites, white papers, newsletters, and social media campaigns. For example, if you want to share your insights on the latest trend in your industry, you write a blog post, publish it on your website, and let your followers know through your social media accounts.

Earned Media: Forrester defines earned media as “when customers become the channel.” Your brand earns media when people start talking about you (usually in a good way). According to Nielsen, earned media is the most trusted form of advertising.

The term earned media describes news content featuring or sourcing your brand, products, or services.

Earned media coverage comes from media relations when a media or news outlet includes your company, product, service, expert, opinion, or ideas in a news story (online, print, radio, TV, podcast, etc.). It’s when a newspaper or industry trade publication (blog, magazine, or website) features your brand or quotes your expert. It’s appearing on a TV morning show or the evening news. It’s what most people think of when they think of PR. Some might call it “publicity.” It’s the most influential form of communications today. It’s a branding bonanza because it also positions the company as a leader and the voice of reason.

In the world of media overkill, your audiences need an effective filter or they’ll be overwhelmed. If you gain earned media, you are more likely to cut through your audience’s filters. Plus, earned media offers third-party credibility.

Earned media also enables your brand to reach a wider audience – an audience that may not know about you, but can benefit from your content, products, or services. Earned media may take more work because you are not in control of the process and decision-making, but it should be a major component of your content marketing strategy. Leaders are newsmakers.

Earned media management is a strategy based upon the concept that new campaign methodologies, standardized data and processes, and technology allow communicators and PR professionals to target influencers, distribute messages and measure the business impact those activities have on the behavior of stakeholders. Earned Media Management unlocks the full potential of opportunities by better integrating the creativity and art of the discipline, with technology and data to optimize and measure results.

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Gary R. Chandler

Gary Chandler is the CEO of Crossbow Communications. He also is the founder of Sacred Seedlings and Earth News. He is the author of 11 books about health and environmental issues from around the world.