When we ask what the real value of earned media is, we first need to clarify what it is. Keeping it simple, earned media is press coverage. This can be in the paper, on the radio or TV. It can be in print or online. Fundamentally, it is content that has been shared by a brand and used by a journalist.
This process is nothing new. In fact, it is often referred to as traditional PR. At Open Comms it is one of the tactics we use as part of the press office function we deliver for clients. We collate all necessary information, find an angle, draft a story and distribute.
Sounds simple but there’s a little more to it than that.
Interestingly, over recent years, the value of earned content has been a topic for much discussion. There are many benefits to securing coverage and brands are recognising the positive impact this has on business.
Earned media is Editorial
It is important to make it clear, earned media is not advertising.
Earned media is editorial and that means that there is no cost to the journalist or brand to use the article you have supplied. When it comes to advertising a brand will pay for space. With earned media, it is up to the journalist to choose whether to use what has been supplied or not.
As such, with earned media, there is no guarantee of coverage.
With coverage comes a perceived credibility. The papers, outlets and platforms that we target are all of a quality that our clients would expect. We don’t send content to anyone and everyone. It’s about being more specific and finding the outlets that an audience will access.
Given that a journalist has to verify the copy and choose to use it, this adds further governance and value to the results.
I was reading 2019 Global Comms Report: ‘the Path to Progress’ by PRWeek and Cision. Within the findings was that 60 per cent of respondents to a survey globally felt that journalists have the most powerful voice of any influencer.
That’s big figures and big news for brands.
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Much of the information we form our opinions on is first shared by the media. This gives huge power and responsibility to news outlets. It also means that the headlines shared are capturing the attention of the readers and viewers every day.
There is no doubt that the media is a tool to be respected but also accessed. In turn, it isn’t difficult to see the real value in earned media.
Capitalising on Audience Reach
Although the circulations of newspapers may be declining that doesn’t necessarily mean they hold less value. Almost all titles will have a digital version and just like print, they share earned content too.
In fact, when a story is shared in print and online, the reach can be particularly impressive. In some instances, it can reach millions of readers.
Conversely, when you want to communicate with a niche audience, it’s better to speak to a thousand relevant readers than a million that are disengaged. In this instance, we would target a specialist trade media.
The opportunity being that earned media gives you the choice to engage with the most relevant outlets for your audiences.
Harnessing the Value of Earned Media
Many PR’s, ourselves included, would say that earned media is our bread and butter. That isn’t to underestimate its worth. As mentioned above, the results can have a massive impact on the performance of a business.
Just some of the benefits to earned media are as follows:
- Raising the profile of a business
- Launching a product
- Securing share of voice where it matters most
- Positioning a person or business as an industry expert
- Gaining credibility as subject matter experts
- Managing communications throughout a crisis
These are just a handful of the benefits to having a plan in place that will allow you to secure earned media coverage.
Gaining Access to Earned Media
In order to access earned media, and the benefits it will deliver, the first thing to do is to recognise the value in PR. It is, after all, the specialism that is most responsible for earned media. As such, a business should either hire an expert inhouse or work with an agency.
What you need is a plan which outlines the stories that you have to share. They must be relevant and right for each publication. Far too often, journalists will receive content that isn’t relevant or that has no news angle. Not only does this make their job harder, but ours too!
PR has a bad reputation for sharing irrelevant content that has one purpose; to promote a business. While this is often an objective, there as to be a real reason someone wants to read what a client has to say.
Go back to the beginning and question the relevance of each story you have to share. It’s then a case of identifying your target media, drafting the content, securing a good quality picture and distributing.
As is often the case with PR, it all sounds very straight forward. The challenge comes when you realise there are thousands of brands doing the same. The quality of your content has to compete and secure space, which is often limited.
Calling on the Professionals
With decades of experience between us, we manage earned media for all of our clients. There isn’t a single brand we work with where this isn’t an objective. It is what we do.
If you would like to speak to us about how we would approach this for your business, please do give us a call.