Earned Media: What Is It and How to Get It

In earned media, media outlets or others will cover your product, service, story, or event. It’s a powerful form of advertising.

We all know it: the way people consume media has changed. Not long ago, getting a story in front of your local reporter ensured that thousands of people learned about who you are and what your business does. However, local news is struggling, and social media use continues to surge.

This isn’t to say that earned media is dead. In fact, the opposite is true. However, what earned media is, and how you get it, has changed dramatically. 

What Is Earned Media?

Earned media is the term used to describe one of the more valuable types of media that a person or business can get when trying to promote something. Earned media is a critical part of any public relations strategy and can also be a key component of marketing campaigns.

With earned media, outlets or others will cover your product, service, story, or event. It is essentially others doing reporting or storytelling for you on their own platforms.

Earned media is typically provided by traditional media types, but it is important to remember that the definition of media outlets has changed dramatically over time. While reporters and news stations remain a critical component of media content creation, you need to keep in mind that others – including social media users – can provide you with critical earned media coverage. This is part of an overall influencer marketing strategy, and this type of media content can be huge when it comes to getting earned media and getting new customers. 

When used right, earned media is critical to any marketing strategy’s success. Indeed, developing an earned media strategy is an often overlooked component of any effort to get new customers. 

What Is Owned Media?

Owned media is another important component of a marketing or digital marketing strategy. It involves anything that is under a company’s direct control or ownership. This includes your website, social media, blogs, newsletters, platforms, or more.

You control your owned media, meaning that the content of a story is controlled directly by you. As such, you need to be constantly updating your owned media to reflect your company’s current needs. Owned media can also be formatted to look like earned media, giving your content a “newsworthy” appearance. You can manage your owned media in such a way so that it covers your content like it was a news story.

Owned media covers many items and is a vital part of your content strategy. Common examples include social media channels (such as LinkedIn or retweets from your company’s Twitter account), responses to service or product reviews (like on platforms including Amazon, Yelp, or TripAdvisor), and other pieces of content that you may create, such as videos or infographics. Content marketing is another part of owned media, as this involves creating interesting content, then sharing it on your owned media. Content marketing can also help enhance your SEO. 

Since social media marketing is one of the more popular forms of owned media, you will need to develop your social media channels if you want to develop a robust owned media presence. This means investing heavily in content creation and audience outreach that can help you expand your audience. Social media posts can also be reused in other forms of owned media, like email marketing. Email marketing is still a highly utilized form of owned media, as you can use it to give helpful advice, give a roundup of relevant news items, and share other important pieces of media content. You will have to keep your media content fresh and interesting, not just self-promotional – otherwise, people may unsubscribe. 

What Is Paid Media?

Paid media is typical advertising. On one hand, it can involve traditional, offline advertisements. This includes advertising on the radio, television, or print.

Of course, it also now involves extensive advertising on newer forms of media, like social media and podcasts. As such, it can include PPC ads, banner ads, paid social media posts, search engine ads, and more. If you have the budget for it, it can even involve video advertising that appears before a YouTube video or on other targeted digital platforms.  

Paid media can be a great way of expanding your potential customers and reaching your targeted audience. It can also increase brand awareness if you use ads that are more broadly targeted. The type of media you use ultimately depends on the metrics you are trying to use to advance your business interests. 

What Are Some Earned Media Examples?

  • TV News Segment: If you can get your business or product on the news, you are far more likely to gain new customers. You will probably have the most success at getting local news coverage, but you can also always attempt to get coverage with larger networks. If this is something you want to do, you may need to get referrals from local reporters.
  • Online and Print Media Coverage: Print reports and bloggers are one of the biggest ways that people consume news and hear about new services and products. These reporters and news outlets can usually be contacted via a press release.
  • Tweets: Tweets from influential figures can be very helpful to you, particularly if the tweet in question is either a retweet of your content or is information that links to a product or mentions your account. 
  • Product Roundup: Many papers, bloggers and websites have individuals who will give your product a review. They usually expect a copy of a product for free, and they may not necessarily give you a good review. However, if the content owner in question has a large audience and is viewed as a credible actor, you can stand to benefit.
  • Customer Reviews: Customer reviews can be earned media in that they are others reviewing your product, thus resulting in other people sharing information about what you do and if your product is successful. You can also potentially highlight this form of earned media on your owned media, showing what real people think of your products and services.

Is Social Media Earned Media?

Social media is certainly different from more traditional types of earned media. However, it can still be a highly valuable form of earned media – particularly if it is high-quality, interesting, and engaging to your prospective customers.

Given the viral nature of social media, and its ability to be shared by others, social media can be very good for building a positive word of mouth with others. Social media is often picked up by search engines. As such, proper use of social media – including mentions by others – can help your search engine optimization (SEO), thus ensuring that more people see your website content. These social shares can be absolutely vital. 

It is worth noting that social media can be earned media even if you don’t get a reporter to do a story on you, then share it on social media. Having another influencer, media organization, or reporter repost or share your content or give you a retweet is another form of earned media that can often be very useful if the individual or organization in question has a high number of followers. 

How Do You Get Earned Media?

There are many tactics that you can use to get earned media. This includes:

Distribute Press Releases

Press releases are formal media documents that are used by people or businesses. They are sent to reporters as part of an effort to inform them about an upcoming event or story. They may be formatted very similarly to traditional news stories and include quotes from relevant individuals. If they are promoting an event, they will also discuss when that event is and how the press may attend. 

It is worth noting that the list of people to whom you may send press releases has changed. There was once a time that you would only send press releases to reporters or representatives of “formal” media, but this is no longer the case. These days, a business may send press releases to anyone with a significant audience. This includes bloggers, other online influencers, elected officials, and more. 

Build Relationships With Reporters and Influencers

Keep in mind that sending out a press release to as many contacts as possible may be useful but it’s almost certainly not enough to get consistent coverage from local reporters. It can be helpful, but there is more that you can do. Consider reaching out to local reporters or influencers in your field, introducing yourself, and explaining more about who you are and what you do.

It is important to build a relationship with the individual in question that doesn’t make it seem like you want something. This means that you should reach out to the individual in question when you are not trying to pitch a story or curry favor. Instead, offer to be a resource to the reporter. If you work in a highly technical field, offer to help explain things to them. Furthermore, if you have a mutual friend, try to get an introduction rather than making a cold call.

Lastly, remember that reporters are workers just like the rest of us. They value trustworthiness, politeness, and responsiveness. If a reporter calls, get back to them as soon as possible. If you don’t know the answer to something, be truthful, but try to either get them more information or find someone who can answer their query. Doing this can go a long way toward building a good relationship with a reporter or influencer, and this may help you generate positive press in the long run. 

Send Products for Reviews

Many bloggers and reviewers will accept products or services with the understanding that they will provide honest reviews. You should check to determine whether you need to pitch to a reporter before sending them your product. 

Keep in mind that sending a product or service for review does not – and should not – guarantee you a positive review. Sending free items with the expectation of getting a positive review is certainly unethical, and it might be illegal in your jurisdiction.

As such, understand that sending your product for a review is a risk. However, there are ways you can mitigate the risk. For example, research the reviewer in question, and see how they have responded in the past to other products. Have they expressed concerns or disparaged products that are similar to yours, or who may have challenges like the ones yours have? If so, it may not be worth the risk of sending them your product. 

Guest Contributors on Owned Media

Guest contributors on your own owned media – like a blog or Facebook live – can be a great way of building a partnership with others. If the content that you want to share is high-quality and interesting to your customer base – and it complements the product of the other participating individual – then you may have a great opportunity to collaborate. You can then use each other’s owned media to advertise each other, thus resulting in a potential audience boost for each of you. Make sure that you plan out what you are doing to say ahead of time, thus ensuring that you are on the same page about what content you are promoting and not accidentally saying something that may be disparaging to your partner. 

Earned media can be – and should be – a critical component of any overall media strategy. While much of the media landscape has changed in the past few years, traditional media is still highly consumed by others. As such, you need to ensure that your business develops a robust earned media strategy.