There are three types of publicity (exposure) available to businesses, namely “owned,” “paid’ and “earned.” Each is important to the success of your business, but none is more important than earned media. Earned media by its very nature is the best publicity you can hope for, and while you do not pay for it, and cannot control it, you do earn it, through your actions. Earned media is a far more trusted form of publicity than any other type, because it is perceived as being more truthful.
Some Types of Earned Media
Someone posts about reading your eBook or blog post and tells others how awesome and helpful it is to them, and shares a link to your eBook or blog.
When someone writes a product review on a third party website and links back to your product.
Someone gives your website a rating on a third party website.
Word of Mouth
Someone tells their friends and colleagues about your products and services and provides the information needed, often in the form of a testimonial for their friends to make an informed decision to buy your products or use your services.
As a business owner you send out the press release, but third party websites of which you have no control over, run with the story.
Third Party Mentions
Unpaid third party bloggers write about your products, websites, or services without any payment whatsoever, including affiliate income.
Even though you may own the video, once it goes viral it becomes earned media of which you have no control over.
Even though you may have created the infographic and are the first to distribute it, once it goes viral you no longer own what people do with it or say with it and it becomes earned media.
Viral Blog Posts
You write it and share it, and then at the point it becomes viral and third parties are distributing it, it becomes earned media.
As you can imagine earned media can easily become confused with owned and paid media. But, if you can get it clear in your mind that earned media is information about your business that is created and distributed by third parties not under your control, then it’ll be easier to understand. The only exception is the case of information that goes viral.
Knowing this, you can work to direct the earned media that happens, you can direct it by providing excellent content that has a chance of going viral. Plus, always offer first class products and services that your customers will voluntarily want to talk about to their friends in multiple formats. Remember, whether the discussion about you is negative or positive, it’s still earned media and as they say, no publicity is bad publicity or to put it another way, it’s better to be talked about than not talked about.
You may also seek to control some stories by sending out newsworthy press releases to the right contacts that will take ownership of your story and disseminate it to their audience. Provide good customer service, awesome products, second-to-none services and you can have some measure of control over the earned media that is out there about you.