An effective media marketing strategy should include owned, paid, and earned media. Owned media includes social media, blogs, and even your corporate website. Paid media includes influencer marketing, advertorials, sponsored content, and some advertising. Earned media is any publicity or exposure for your business you haven’t paid for or created yourself. We’re here to share some easy, free earned media strategies—because not every company can afford to hire a PR agency.
It’s what external sources say about your brand–not because you paid them, but because something about it appeals to their audience or a journalist sees the value in what your company and leadership have to share with their audience. While earned media includes user-generated content, social media posts that reference your company or product, and online reviews, we’re focusing on the biggest one: media coverage.
Since companies can’t control what media outlets publish about them, their employees, or their products, earned media is usually less biased than paid and owned media. That means consumers are more likely to be influenced by earned media—especially when published or issued by reputable media outlets, such as Fortune or the Financial Times.
In this blog, we discuss some benefits of earned media coverage and share three easy, free earned media strategies that every marketing and communications professional can use.
While it can be challenging to secure earned media, it’s a persuasive marketing tool. Some reasons for focusing on earned media include:
Public relations (PR) professionals deeply understand the nuances of earning media, so receiving help from a PR agency is a great way to streamline the process. However, companies with a limited budget may find that their communications team members can use our strategies to benefit from free earned media.
Think of earned media like digital word-of-mouth advertising. Studies show that 90% of customers will choose a personally endorsed product (even if they don’t know the person) over one without a recommendation.
Being cited as an expert source can increase visibility for your brand, improve your SEO rankings, and position your company and employees as thought leaders in your field. Let’s look at some expert sourcing platforms that offer ways to access free earned media that can help achieve this goal.
Qwoted is a freemium network that connects reporters with brands and small businesses to provide expert sources. Reporters from Forbes, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and others use Qwoted to find expert sources.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is another freemium option to connect journalists with qualified expert sources.
Featured, formerly Terkel, uses a Q&A format to help subject-matter experts secure placements in top publications.
These platforms are usually accessible to those outside the PR industry and are valuable tools for communications teams. They do require dedicated time to review, respond to, and track source requests from journalists. Therefore, you’ll want to make a communications strategy to ensure you get the biggest return on your invested time.
Trade associations, such as membership organizations, often accept contributor articles from reputable sources. The benefit for the organization is, of course, no-cost content from a vetted source. However, only some submissions are accepted, so review editorial guidelines and calendars during your strategy and planning stages.
Trade associations often require content providers to be members. If your company/leadership are already members, start building a relationship with the association’s communications staff—they can help connect you with the right editor.
This type of free earned media is one of the most effective ways to get your message in front of the right audience.
Benefits of exposure via trade association publications include:
Tap into local resources to become a regional knowledge expert in your field. Work with nearby newspapers or radio stations to develop a weekly or monthly column with helpful information applicable to your area.
For example, a plumbing company may provide tips on how to avoid clogged drains during the rainy seasons to their local metro paper or small-town paper. A health and wellness provider may collaborate with a local health-focused social media influencer to offer ideas on preventing dehydration during warmer weather.
This type of content (free earned media!) is highly shareable, making it a great way to get free exposure and word-of-mouth marketing for your business.
However, writing an ongoing column or article takes time and effort. And after you’ve written the first few columns, you may find it harder to develop new subjects. Before approaching the media outlets, check their websites for contributor guidelines. If they are open to contributions, then list at least 24 articles you’d write. Then, write three sample articles or columns to show your style.
A word of caution: editors review most content for potential plagiarism and AI-generated language. While using AI to develop an outline is okay, the concepts and words should be yours. It is encouraged to use a grammar-checker, such as Grammarly, or have a skilled editor review your work before submitting it to an editor.
Securing earned media is a key element of many successful marketing strategies, and you don’t have to pay a PR firm thousands of dollars to take advantage of the benefits. With 92% of consumers reporting they trust earned media more than paid media, it may be time for you to dedicate time to an earned media campaign.
Developing a DIY approach to earned media is possible if you dedicate time to the process. Short on time? If you’re ready to increase brand awareness and sales through an earned media campaign but don’t have the time, give Dogwood Solutions a call; we can help.
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