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Securing earned media in a digital world

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It’s something of a cliche to say that we’re in a rapidly evolving media landscape, but keeping up with its changeable ways is part and parcel of the PR world. When you want to earn coverage and get people talking, understanding how and where to engage people is crucial for spreading your story. This begins with a strategic, prioritized approach to securing earned media. 

Earned media is exposure won through media relations: news coverage on- and offline, op-eds, blogs, podcasts, and media discussion of your brand. But there are obviously other tools in your PR kit, each with its own role to play in helping you get earned media coverage. There’s owned media: brand-owned websites, newsrooms, newsletters, social channels, etc. Paid media, like traditional advertising, marketing, and sponsored content. Shared media often refers to social, user/consumer-generated content.

Learn more about how earned media interacts with owned, paid and shared media in our free guide.

Approaching your media mix

It’s common for brands to dedicate a lot of resources to owned and paid media channels. But securing earned media boosts your SEO and builds trust with both your audience and the media. Start with a strategic and pragmatic PR plan to assess what resources are needed to prioritize your earned media goals. 

This doesn’t mean neglecting the other parts of your media mix. Utilizing a holistic media mix can build your brand’s audience and credibility, and will yield better coverage in the long run: 

Create and curate a well-designed, searchable and SEO-friendly newsroom. PressPage client Ohio Health, for example, saw an 889% rise in their news coverage by maximizing their newsroom’s potential. 

Set strict publishing standards to ensure well-written, easily shared, SEO-optimized content. 

Paid media still matters. Creative “traditional” ad campaigns can secure a lot of earned media. 

Create content with you target audience in mind. The more connected to the story a person feels, the more likely they are to share it. 

Building a story worth sharing

To secure earned media, a diverse media mix needs to be supported by strategic relationship building and improved media outreach. Spend time researching, get to know your audience, and invest in a good media database that's regularly updated and allows you to search for relevant journalists easily. These are the basics to begin successfully courting the press and influencers, and driving word-of-mouth. 

Traditional news and media outlets remain the key way we consume our news. You need to capture journalists’ attention with an effective and inspiring pitch: personalize your outreach and keep it simple, from email design to choice of vocabulary. Get to your ask quickly, and accommodate their needs as best as you can. Most importantly, add value. Journalists have a job to do, and they want to do it well. Be strategic: offer a unique angle, or exclusive content. 

Influencers are the Instagrammers, YouTubers, bloggers, podcasters and meme-makers now prominent in our online lives. They offer that “word-of-mouth” authenticity that makes earned media so powerful. Try engaging with influencers through a PR perspective rather than marketing: research influencers aligned with your audience and brand values. Reach out to them with the eventual aim of creating a brand ambassador. Sometimes it’s effective to approach influencers like journalists: newsworthiness might be as enticing for them as a sponsored post.

You want to get people talking on the ground and on social media too: go where your audiences are and get involved yourself. You can try setting up a community forum for deeper engagement. If it’s appropriate for your brand, organizing community events can also be a great way to generate word-of-mouth. 

In today’s world, treating earned media as a desirable-but-not-directly-pursued-goal isn’t going to cut it anymore. Plan your approach, optimizing as you go. Each small step that improves one aspect of your media output will steadily lead towards securing more earned media too. 

Get started on your earned media strategy today and get your copy of our free guide.

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