Given the rise of content marketing and social media marketing many marketers nowadays seem to overlook the role of the media in being able to get the word out about your services, products and business. What is termed “earned media” however, should form the cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
What Is Earned Media?
Earned media is simply third party coverage about your business. It’s not always generated by you, though you can influence it by connecting with media representatives regularly. Earned media shows your business is newsworthy in some way and therefore spreads the word about it for free. It is not advertising; it is human interest information that can potentially attract the attention of your target audience and turn them into subscribers and customers.
In some cases, the media representatives might become fans themselves and be willing to give you press coverage regularly. In this case, they can serve as brand advocates who will spread the word about your business, growing your group of followers in ever-widening circles.
Let me give you an example, some years back I was fortunate enough to have developed a series of websites and marketing strategies for some Iraqi businesses who where working with the Americans to rebuild Iraq. As I am based in Australia this was deemed newsworthy and a I was interviewed with the end result being a full page feature in the West Australian Business Newspaper. Once this was published a large national company contacted me and became a client… this was all based on earned media.
Where to Get Earned Media
There are a number of locations in the modern world to get earned media. Traditionally, you would try to get it from reputable newspapers and magazines. These days, newspapers and magazines will often have a website as well, where they will publish material of interest even if does not fit in the paper or magazine. The content might be local in nature, or of global interest to those looking for information related to that niche.
You can contact journalists directly to pitch stories to them. This can be time-consuming, however, in terms of the amount of research you have to do to find periodicals that are the right fit, and journalists willing to pay attention to you.
Far more common these days is the press release, and in particular, a release issued through a press release distribution service. There are free and paid services. Journalists might receive the latest releases in a feed, or scan the headlines to find stories they think might be of interest to their target audience. Most of these services have reporting so you can gauge the success of your release.
One other popular method for gaining earned media is blog outreach. Top bloggers might use the distribution service, or be willing to accept information and perhaps even guest blog posts from you. Offer great content and craft an interesting resource box with your author name, description of your business and a link to your site, and you should be able to drive traffic to your site for free.
The Advantages of Earned Media
There are a number of advantages of earned media compared to your own marketing efforts.
- Trust – Earned media is seen as more trustworthy. Studies have shown that people are 70% more likely to trust recommendations and information on their social networks than any material a business issues. This being the case, earned media can serve as a foot in the door to people who would otherwise ignore you.
- Subscribers – Once people know you exist, they can interact with you in various ways. If they feel you are trustworthy, they might be willing to get to know you better by subscribing to an ecourse or your email newsletter.
- Sales – Earned media won’t always drive sales, but it does improve your chances.