On The Power of Earned Media


Earned media is a powerful marketing tool that can help you reach a wider audience, build brand awareness, and generate leads. It’s also one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing, as it doesn’t require you to spend any money on paid advertising.

So Far, So Good…

Think about brands that have had PR disasters. Think about the way the media jumps on a story and how it gets everywhere. Now imagine you could get the opposite of that, the stuff singing the praises of your brand or product…

Online, offline, television, radio… it’s earned media (whether positive or negative).

In the old days the main types of media would be television and print. In the digital age those still apply, but you also have opportunities through things like social media channels, websites and bloggers. These are the foundations of an effective earned media strategy for your brand.

Paid media is things like blogs, PPC ads, YouTube ads and channels. A person sharing your blog because it’s so good, or mentioning you in an article because your product has fixed their problem is earned media. You’ve ‘earned’ the mention.

Earned Media is More Credible

When most people see your brand mentioned in a positive light in a third-party publication, in a natural way, they’re more likely to trust you and your product or service. It won’t feel like they’re being sold to.

When you build relationships with journalists and bloggers, there’s a greater chance they’ll write about your brand in the future. And when one publication gets hold of you, it can also help you begin relationships with other journalists and bloggers who want in on the action.

If friends and family mention you when they’ve had a good experience, those mentions, that digital word of mouth, counts as earned media. And it’s hugely powerful too. Conversely if they’ve had a bad experience they’ll shout about that. So that means keeping your customers happy.

In this way, earned media is way more credible than paid and owned media or advertising. It’s powerful stuff.

SEO? Yep That Too

What’s more, earned media can help you increase your search engine ranking. When your brand is mentioned in a positive light on other websites, or if a business links to your content, it can directly and indirectly help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

If you’re looking for a way to reach a wider audience, build brand awareness, and generate leads, thinking about earned media as part of your digital marketing strategy is a great way to do it.

What Does Earned Media Look Like?

So, earned media can be a hugely powerful tool for marketing your business. When creating a content and digital marketing strategy, think about the following scenarios:

  • A social media post that features positive reviews or mentions of your product
  • A journalist writes a positive article about your company in a major or trade publication
  • A piece of your content is so good it gets seen and shared online
  • A blogger or website organically highlights your product on their blog
  • Your company wins an award
  • A person recommends your business or product to a friend through word of mouth
  • Your company is featured in a news story
  • You’re invited to take part in a podcast about an area in your industry or a niche in your industry.
  • You’re featured in a video channel that people love to watch and tell others about

Influencers can be a source of earned media too. Some are paid, but if they like your brand there’s no reason why they wouldn’t naturally link to it too. You just have to make sure they see it.

Search Engine Snippets

Ok, it’s not technically a form of earned media in the classic sense, but great content gets rewarded. Get that snippet at the top of Google. It’ll do wonders for getting your brand and content in front of new people.

With these in mind you can begin to create a strategy that focuses on creating the content you need to earn those media mentions. And if you look at the above there’s a common thread… most of it is about sharing. Be it an opinion, or a piece of content, the key is to create content that makes your audience say ‘have you seen this?’ or ‘you should know about this’ to someone else. They see value in the recommendation.

And remember, people might be mentioning your brand because it’s seen as cool or ethical, or aligns with an individual’s personal values.

I’m Sold. But What Can I Do to Help Get Coverage?

If your product or service is the best in its class or supremely different you might find earned media comes easier. But that doesn’t mean sitting back and relaxing. There are various ways you earn organic media coverage.

Naturally, you’re relying on a third party’s uptake on your product or content, so it might feel like it’s out of your control. But by monitoring what’s effective and what’s not, you can give yourself an idea of the kinds of things to create, then make sure the right audience sees them:

Create High Quality Content

This is the most important thing you can do to get earned media. If you create content that is interesting, informative, and valuable, journalists and bloggers will be more likely to write about it. Your audience will share great content. And search engines will reward you for it.

Once you have created high quality content, you can pitch your stories to journalists and bloggers. Attending industry events and conferences is a great way to meet journalists and bloggers in your field, and to get your name and brand in front of them.

News Value

One of the best ways to get earned media is to be newsworthy. This means doing something that is interesting, unique, or that an online publisher would love to write about and publish. For example, you could launch a new product, win an award, or donate to a charity.

Create press releases and share them with publishers. And make sure what you do uses the right types of media.

Share Everywhere

Share your content. Utilise your social media channels. The more of the right people who see it, the greater the chances of it being re-shared or exposed to wider audiences. Contests and giveaways can generate a buzz, as long as the people engaged aren’t just giveaway lovers with no real interest in your brand.

When you create something new, make sure everyone knows about it. Get happy customers to tell their friends.

Partner with Influencers

Sometimes they’re a form of paid media, or paid in kind, but influencer marketing is a great way to reach a wider audience and generate earned media coverage. If an influencer is tuned in to your brand or it matches their lifestyle, you can also earn organic links or shout outs in their latest blog post or their social media mentions.

Using Social Media and User Generated Content

Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. Share your content on social media and engage with your followers. Social media mentions can be a huge source of influence. This will also help you build relationships with potential media contacts and increase the chances of your content being seen by a wider audience.

Forums and chats are other places where you can earn mentions.

When Aldi created a Brewdog-style beer, the reporting of the banter between the brands and the mentions did more than advertising ever could. It even led to a collaboration. Take a look at our blog post on how the Brewdog/Aldi beer story unfolded. It’s also great example of earned media. 

How Do You Measure the Impact of Earned Media?

As with any form of marketing, you’ll want to be able to measure how much impact it has, and ultimately whether it’s cost effective.

Before you start tracking your earned media, it is important to set goals. What do you want to achieve with your earned media campaign? Do you want to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or drive sales? Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start tracking the metrics that are most relevant to your goals.

Use a media monitoring tool: There are lots of media monitoring tools available that can help you track earned media coverage. These tools can help you track mentions of your brand in the media, as well as the reach, impressions, sentiment, and engagement of that coverage.

Track the right metrics: It is important to track the metrics that are most relevant to your goals. For example, if you are looking to increase brand awareness, you may want to track the reach and impressions of your earned media coverage. If you are looking to generate leads, you may want to track the number of website visits and leads generated as a result of your earned media coverage.

Analyse the data: Once you have collected data on your earned media, it is important to analyse it to see what you can learn. What are the trends? What did you do that was popular? What failed? What can you do to improve your results in the future?

Some of the most common metrics for measuring earned media include:

  • Reach: This is the number of people who have seen or heard about your brand as a result of earned media coverage.
  • Impressions: This is the number of times your brand has been seen or heard about.
  • Sentiment: This is the overall tone of the coverage, whether positive, negative, or neutral.
  • Engagement: This is the level of interaction with your brand, such as shares, likes, and comments.
  • Traffic: This is the number of people who have visited your website as a result of earned media coverage.
  • Leads: This is the number of people who have expressed interest in your products or services as a result of earned media coverage.
  • Sales: This is the amount of money you have generated as a result of earned media coverage.

It is important to note that not all earned media coverage is created equal. Some coverage may be more valuable than others, depending on the publication, the audience, and the overall tone of the coverage. As a result, it is important to track the impact of earned media on a variety of metrics in order to get a complete picture of its value.

Final Thoughts

Earned media is cool stuff. It’s free, it influences people’s decisions and like anything that takes more effort to earn, it lasts longer.  Think about it when you create a content marketing plan. Earned media affects people’s decisions (positively and negatively, so make sure you’re keeping your customers happy) and it’s seen as a genuine endorsement of a good product or service. This is vital.

And it’s free. Sort of. Yes, it takes effort and budget to create the content/product/service that people want to talk about, but once you’ve done that it’s hugely cost effective in earning its keep. And there’s every chance that a publisher or influencer will talk for your brand for a long time once they’re engaged.

Could your business benefit from the power of earned media?