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The power of earned media

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Last editedMay 20212 min read

They say the best things in life are free and that’s particularly true when it comes to publicity. That’s why earned media, also known as earned content, is so desirable to public relations teams. It’s one of the three types of media (alongside paid and owned) that form the foundations of any good PR campaign and it’s easily the most highly coveted. But what is it and why is it held in such high esteem?

What is earned media?

Earned media isn’t content you own or content you pay for; it’s content you earn. This is content written about your company that hasn’t been published on channels you own and you haven’t paid for. In the pre-digital era, earned media was beyond the reach of many but the largest businesses, but the breadth of the media landscape today means there are thousands of opportunities waiting to be taken advantage of. 

Earned media examples

  • Your product is featured as part of a roundup article.

  • A newspaper or online news site features your company as part of a wider piece or perhaps dedicates a whole news story to you.

  • An influencer shares your content on their social media feed because they like your product.

  • Reviews of your product or service feature on unaffiliated blogs and websites.

The benefits of earned media

The most obvious benefit of earned media is that it costs nothing so the ROI is always going to be higher than with any other media investment. It’s also a more organic way of building your credibility and heightening brand awareness that feels more genuine than owned or paid media tactics.

Consumers are savvy enough to realise that everything a company posts about itself is going to be one-sided and paid content is becoming increasingly easy to spot. Earned media, meanwhile, is seen as being unbiased (because it is) so it naturally carries more weight. Indeed, 85% of consumers seek out trusted third-party sources when considering a purchase. It also allows you to reach an audience potentially far beyond your immediate target audience.

The only drawback is that you can’t control the narrative, so if somebody doesn’t like your business it could generate bad publicity. It can also be tricky to generate and it will take a lot longer to see any results than through paid or owned media.

How do I earn media?

While the best earned media is something that happens naturally, it’s quite rare and you certainly shouldn’t count on it. More often than not, it’s the natural by-product of research and outreach. Think of it as a plant that needs a steady stream of water every once in a while before it starts to flower. 

You can work towards earning your media in many ways, including (but not limited to) the following.

Don’t be afraid of SEO

Search engine optimisation is not the dirty word it once was. Thanks to Google’s constant algorithm updates, SEO can be a surprisingly organic way to gather organic traffic. Just make sure you only publish content that’s worth sharing and relevant to your target audience.

Network within your industry and beyond

Reach out to bloggers, thought leaders and other authoritative voices in your industry. If you can build good relationships with them, they are more likely to promote your brand.

Stay social

Social media updates should be a part of your daily routine. It’s the most direct way of connecting with your audience and generating a buzz around your brand. It’s also the best way to seek out the influencers that might be a natural fit for your brand.

We can help

If you’re interested in learning more about earned media and how it relates to company spending then get in touch with our financial experts today. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

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