What Is Earned Media?

When it comes to marketing your business, building your brand, and ultimately growing your bottom line, there are a few ways to go about it. You’ve probably heard of paid search and organic search when it comes to contact marketing. Paid search is when you pay for placement on search engine results, and organic is when it happens “naturally” or without paying for it. There is a similar concept when we’re talking about media coverage and awareness. It’s called earned media.

What is Earned Media?

There are three different types of media for online marketers. They are owned, paid, and earned media. Owned media are channels that are within your company’s control. For example, you control what you publish on your blog and on your social media pages. Paid media is exactly what you’d expect – it is media that you paid for, and generally refers to advertising. If you buy an ad placement on a website or in a publication, that’s paid media. 

Earned media is different. It refers to media that you generate through a variety of channels and all of it is in the control of others and is influenced by how they respond to your information. For example, you share a report on your social media page and 5,000 people like, share, or comment on that report. That’s earned media. If the local newspaper picks up your report and story then that’s also earned media.

It includes concepts like word of mouth marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, and press release marketing, to name a few. Earned media is just that; it’s earned. It cannot be bought or owned. 

So how effective is earned media and how can you get more of it? Let’s look at effectiveness first.

How Effective is Earned Media?

Let’s flip the conversation for a moment. Think about what type of information you’re more likely to trust… an advertisement for a service or a peer who says they used the same service and had a great experience? It’s pretty much a no-brainer, right? You’re going to trust the peer over the company ad. 

Your audience feels exactly the same way. Regardless of who they are or what your business model is, they trust earned media or word-of-mouth type messages over paid or owned media. According to Nielsen, 85% of consumers regularly or occasionally seek trusted expert content when considering a purchase. (Source: http://www.inpwrd.com/nielsen)

How Can You Get More Earned Media?

Content is the foundation of earned media. To strengthen your brand and motivate more interactions amongst your community of prospects and customers you must:

  • Create top quality content worth sharing – articles, press releases, blog posts etc.
  • Engage and interact on social media
  • Provide exceptional customer service – make them want to talk about you

It’s that simple and that complicated. Earned media can be the cornerstone of a solid marketing plan designed to grow your audience, your business, and your sales. While owned and bought media play a role, you just can’t go wrong when you inspire others to talk about you. 

Anthony Santiago is Director of Marketing at Newswire. With over a decade of experience in PR, he helps ensure that clients understand the value of brand messaging and reach.

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