Earned media has a reputation of being a little bit of an enigma in the world of PR strategy. This is because it is partly out of your hands — you can’t pay for it, and you often can’t write it yourself. This type of media is born from hard work over a concentrated period of time.
So, if it takes so much work, why do it?
Because it is extremely valuable!
Let’s delve into what exactly this type of media is, and how you can utilize it as part of a killer strategy.
What is Earned Media?
An accurate, earned media definition is free publicity that is gained (or earned) from online reviews, word of mouth, backlinks from reputable sites, as well as blogger, press and influencer relations.
Why does it work so well? In recent years, audiences have developed a distrust of brands and branded messages — as proved by the 500 million downloads of ad blockers over the past few years.
Earned content helps you move past this distrust onto a playing field where your target audience will notice you. Earned content means that when someone experiences your brand or message, they may share it with their audience — ones who might not otherwise experience your brand.
The key to earned content is the reliance on third parties for distribution.
But be prepared. This distribution does not just happen. Earned content is not created overnight — after all, it isn’t called “earned” for nothing. You will need to invest time and energy to build up your reputation and earn the credibility that will get you this content.
Earned content is not created overnight
Now that you know what earned content is and why it’s so important, let’s look at 10 ways that you can incorporate earned content into your content strategy.
10 No-Fail Tips to Build Up and Maximize Your Earned Media
1. Be a Gracious Person
Never underestimate the power of being a good person. After all, a person who willingly helps others can expect the same in return.
Interact with others in your industry on social media — share their content, comment on their posts, and give positive feedback about their blogs, podcasts, and other media. Such positive interaction will help them to remember you and your brand.
This also encourages them to pay you back in kind. True, not all will, but even if a few reach out to do the same for you, it is time well spent.
2. Register to Be a Source for Reporters
Reporters, journalists and bloggers are always looking for reliable sources for their articles. Why not offer yourself as such a source?
Free tools like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and Muckrack can help you do this. Register your skills and expertise with these tools and your information will be sent to journalists who are looking for it. If they think you fit their needs, they will shoot you an email.
This is a great way to meet journalists in your industry, and get quoted by the media.
3. Become Part of Online Communities
Get involved with LinkedIn groups that fall into your realm of expertise. If none exist, why not create your own? Don’t flood these communities with self-promotional content — instead, offer helpful advice for issues, as well as a unique view on the industry as a whole.
Register with Quora, a free online community where people go to ask questions, which are divided into categories. Use your expertise to answer their questions on industry matters. These answers build your reputation, and will be seen by whoever asks that question in the future.
Such communities give you a valuable connection with your target audience. As they see your expertise in action, they are more likely to research more about your brand.
4. Pitch Newsworthy Stories
Landing a spot in a major media outlet is one of the top goals of an effective PR strategy. But don’t underestimate the power that lesser-known publications — especially trade publications that are popular among your target audience — can hold for your brand.
In recent years, many media outlets have experienced a cutback in staff and resources. So how can you get their attention? Craft pitches that give them everything they need in order to create a newsworthy story. This would include:
- Fact sheets
- Bullet points
- Visual content
- Calls to action
Once your pitch is ready, make sure you send it to the right person — do your research to find out which journalist within the outlet covers your industry. Each journalist has their own beat, so make sure you contact the right one. Get to know what they cover, as well as their past stories in order to tailor your pitch to give it a more personal feel.
Landing a spot in a major media outlet is one of the top goals of an effective PR strategy
5. Build Up Backlinks
Backlinks are a vital part of earned media that boosts your SEO score, and gets your brand seen by a wider audience.
Find websites within your industry that have high domain authority, and reach out to them. Offer to guest post on their site, or suggest a helpful piece of content on your site (such as an infographic or research material) that they can link to.
These earned backlinks bolster your SEO, and make you more visible to your target audience. The closer to the top of search engine result pages your content is (first page is the ultimate goal), your audience is more likely to find and follow you.
6. Participate in Trade Shows
Live events like trade shows are a leading way to get your brand out into the spotlight and into people’s minds. Publicize your involvement at the event on social media. Take to Facebook Live and similiar platforms to help your audience to feel more personally involved in the experience.
Use the weeks leading up to the trade show to your advantage. Usually, events like this will release a list of influencers, bloggers, and journalists who plan to attend. Reach out to these individuals through email or social media, and invite them to check out your booth — even offer them an interview or free demo of your product.
If you notice people on social media mentioning your brand during or after the event, use that as an opportunity. Reach out with a simple but powerful “thanks for sharing” comment, and possibly include links to more information.
Events like this help to form relationships and build the credibility of your brand. You may be able to reach new audiences and get the third party approval that such earned content offers.
7. Become a Speaker
Many hold back from pursuing public speaking roles because it doesn’t come naturally. If this is you, you’re not alone — and it shouldn’t hold you back. Public speaking is a skill that you have to hone — and it takes practice.
Do your research on local events and start small. As your comfort level and reputation grow, you may decide to reach out to larger events.
Publicize your speaking engagement to your audience well before the event. Share parts of it to share on social media, even using Live video during the event to draw in your audience.
This sets you up in the public’s mind as a thought leader, which is a powerful driver in earning the kind of media you want.
8. Create Content Worth Sharing
While content creation might initially fall under your owned content strategy, sometimes it happily overlaps with earned content. When your content is exemplary, it earns the likes and shares of your social media audience — leading it to be noticed and read by a wider audience.
Successful pieces of content are also picked up and published by third-party publications.
So work extra hard on your content creation to produce the kind of content that can springboard you into the spotlight you want.
9. Reach Out to Influencers
Influencers are those within your industry with a large following, such as on a social media network. If an influencer publishes or talks about your content, it would be a major feather in the cap of your PR strategy.
Once you’ve chosen the right influencers for your PR strategy, do your research and interact with them on their social networks before you approach them. Remember, they probably get dozens of requests, so make your approach personal and unique.
One way to implement influencer marketing in your earned content strategy is with your owned content — write and publish industry-leading content. Make sure that it is unique and innovative. Such content captures the interest of others, including influencers who may then share it with their audience.
Another way to use influencer marketing is to use an influencer within your content. Interview him or her and write an article that highlights their knowledge and expertise. Likely, they will share that piece of content with their audience, and expand your reach at the same time.
10. Use Owned Content To Amplify the Earned
When you finally get the earned content that you’ve been waiting for, don’t let it peter out. Instead, amplify it by including it within your owned content.
If someone include you in a roundup post, such as “Top 10 B2B Businesses Crushing It On Social Media,” why not create a blog post that highlights your brand’s accomplishment? Or an email marketing campaign that includes a link to the earned content as one of your achievements (i.e., Check out what others say about our brand)?
Such smart use of your owned content will extend the life of your spotlight, and may get you noticed by a wider audience.
A Few Points to Remember…
- Become a willing source for journalists and bloggers in order to put your brand in the spotlight
- Join online communities where you can showcase your expertise
- Participate in trade shows where you can engage with a wider audience and work with journalists
- Become a speaker at industry events in order to earn the attention of attendees and journalists
Earned content is a valuable resource that will land your brand in the spotlight. It will take a lot of work and some time, but you can earn the attention that this method promises.