What is ‘earned media’ and what does it mean for public relations?

If you have clicked on this blog post, you are here to find out “What is earned media?” and “What does it mean for public relations”. Earned media is a relatively simple term and is one part of the PESO model: Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned.

Earned media can be briefly defined as:

‘any publicity or media that is not generated by your company or agents of your company, but rather by organic methods via customers, social media fans, journalists or bloggers.’

In PR, earned media can include press coverage, product or company reviews as well as blog posts about your brand or company. Earned media is achieved because of media relations and blogger outreach, but it can also be earned organically, where a journalist, blogger or influential person documents, writes or creates broadcast content about your brand. Given the converged nature of communications, some earned content could also appear on social media and there are some blurred lines and how you might allocate that coverage. Whether you allocate it as earned media coverage or shared or both!) is really down to you and your own evaluation framework.

Earned media is an important part of the marketing communication mix, as endorsement from an impartial, reputable source is very effective at increasing consumer trust in a brand, while also costing a business very little compared with an advert placed in the same location.

This blog post will explore how earned media can be achieved in PR with some tips regarding how earned media can be amplified for your brand, and how it can be measured.

How can earned media be achieved in PR?

Earned media is largely the result of media relations and influencer outreach but very little can be achieved without building a thorough knowledge of what a brand wants. This is called the briefing stage and we have a handy PR brief template to start you off on that process. As earned media is editorial content produced about a business or organisation that it hasn’t directly paid for or created itself, it is important to identify what will peak the interest of journalists, bloggers and social media commentators, and, consequently, give exposure to your client. A popular approach to earned media is using purpose and values as a platform for media relations but really creativity is the only barrier.

Identifying the goal of your strategy here is important. For example, if you are a clothing brand wanting to promote your business, identifying the sites your customers like to visit, what social channels they follow, or finding top-performing content based on their interests, can help you form a tailored strategy.

Once you have identified your customers’ interests, there are other options for acquiring earned media.

Once the brief is established creating an earned media campaign involves a lot of creative and strategic soul searching, brainstorming, proposal writing and planning. We have created this guide to help with with the creative process.

Media relations activity, targeting reporters or journalists is one way that PR practitioners can secure earned media for an organisation. Media relations and outreach takes many forms, such as product launches, thought leadership, stunts, creative communications, stakeholder engagement and product placement. Introducing your client to a journalist in relation to a current news story can help pique their interest. Have a read of our newsjacking blog for our client Langleys Solicitors to see how earned media can be achieved through quickly responding to the news agenda.

Another way that earned media can be achieved in the public relations sector is incorporating industry influencers into your content. For PR professionals, personally reaching out to influencers that have shared audiences with the brand you are working with and asking them for an interview or comment based on the product or service, can help to secure earned media coverage. Using influencers within your campaigns can boost consumer trust in the brand as well as promoting the influencer at the same time. This can also lead to a buzz on social media.

If you want to find out more about how influencers can help you achieve earned media for your client – have a look at our influencer service offering here at PR Agency One.

How can you measure earned media?

There are several ways that PR professionals can measure earned media and demonstrate this to clients.

Traditionally, demonstrating the effectiveness of PR campaigns included counting column inches in newspapers. Now, there are many more sophisticated ways to measure earned media achieved across print, online and broadcast media. The AMEC framework is the most widely adopted process for measuring and evaluating communications, and this focuses on capturing all outputs and outtakes, with a particular emphasis on organisational impact.

Earned media coverage is covered as an output in the framework.

It is also important to undertake some media analysis of the press coverage to check for coverage volumes, tiers of media, messaging, audience size and links for SEO etc.

Use media monitoring tools to evaluate earned media.

PR practitioners can use various media monitoring tools to demonstrate the level of earned media for a client. These tools can accurately report which media outlets and social media users have mentioned your brand and/or products. You can even use simple online tools like Google Alerts or Talkwalker to automate this process.

Once you have a collection of the coverage generated you’ll need to measure and evaluate it. We’re experts in this field – humble brag – and have an international award-winning suite of measurement products.

In fact, our A-game is commercial attribution, reputation management, measurement, research, reporting and evaluation. As measurement and evaluation specialists we promise to provide clients with greater clarity on outcomes and impacts of our PR work.

Check your brand’s share of voice in coverage.

Another way to measure earned media, is by monitoring your client’s share of voice and the sentiment of the coverage you achieve.

This is essentially brand awareness and can those reading the coverage gain a deeper understanding of your brand. This can be done by comparing your brand name to others in a Google Trends search, or diving beyond purely online mentions as part of our more detailed evaluation. One such example of that is using stakeholder research, an activity we have done with our client Decathlon to understand the perceptions of general consumers, customers, and employees.

Look for key messages within earned media.

For PR practitioners, identifying your client’s key messages and analysing whether these are included within the earned media can help to demonstrate the client’s position in the market, as well as the effectiveness of the earned media in pushing out the brands messaging in editorial content. Their progress can be benchmarked against competitors and their performance versus the rest of the industry can be tracked too.

Prioritise SEO in amplifying and measuring earned media.

Finally, search engine optimisation or SEO is very important in creating a successful online earned media campaign but also, in measuring it too.

When PR practitioners are creating contributed content on behalf of their clients, prioritising SEO tactics that will boost the content further up Google rankings, is essential. Including hyperlinks to product and service pages, and using relevant anchor text or campaign names in links will help you reap these benefits.

This can be achieved through deciding on some relevant key words for your client’s content and checking which high-authority sites rank on pages one or two of Google, for each word/topic.

Spending time on SEO can boost your client’s chances of achieving earned media. The higher up the content is on Google, the greater the chances of people seeing it, commenting on it, and sharing it.

Have a look at how we can help you with digital PR also known as SEO PR for you and your client’s content.

Earned media is just one part of the PESO model and can be understood as different forms of conversations occurring both online and offline about your client’s products/brand. As PR practitioners, we can help to achieve earned media for our clients through generating tailored and thoughtful content that considers the importance of SEO as well as actively targeting influencers, journalists and the clients target market.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can achieve earned media coverage for your business or client, fill in our PR brief template to see how we can help!

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