Earned media is unpaid coverage in traditional media outlets, on social media and on product review services. As one of the three main areas of marketing communications, earned media is contrasted with paid media (ads and sponsorships) and owned media (websites, blogs and mass email). Examples of earned media are newspaper and magazine articles, TV stories, tweets, product roundups and even organic website traffic.
In the past, only large corporations could count on getting talked about by other people with authority and an existing audience. So, General Motors would get a story on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Or Apple would get a segment on Good Morning America. Hopefully for the company, the coverage was positive.
In the old days, everybody else who wanted attention, especially small and mid-size businesses, had to buy ads. Which worked OK back in the days of three national TV networks and a newspaper in every town. Americans believed ads, for the most part. And ads were often enough to get a new customer.
Fast forward to today: the era of information overload and mistrust. Oh, how things have changed.
Cutting through the Clutter
With hundreds of channels of TV and the advent of social media, audiences are much less likely to pay attention to ads, as research has shown. For example, 47% of consumers are blocking ads on the web.
What it takes to cut through the clutter these days is not buying more ads. It’s earning coverage in places where people with authority are talking to their own audience. Hopefully, you can get them talking about you. And saying nice things, of course.
So it’s certainly about social media and online reviews, from Facebook and Instagram to Yelp.
But in this age of info overload and fake news, audiences remain skeptical of your online chatter, unless it’s from someone they really trust.
Trust for national news media has been declining when it comes to politics. But for business news, Americans overwhelming trust professional news media outlets, whether it’s the New York Times or Fox News or Buzzfeed.
And for both politics and business, local news media enjoy high levels of trust. Closer to home, TV and newspapers (where they still exist) are the most credible source for relevant news.
The problem is, while you can buy an ad in all these places, it’s not the ads that make news media outlets credible. It’s the editorial content — news and feature stories. But you can’t buy those. You have to earn them doing something newsworthy. And most businesses below the Fortune 500 just aren’t that newsworthy. Selling average products and services doesn’t get the attention of reporters and editors.
The good news is that if you’re a solar, wind or energy efficiency company, you’re in luck. The American public is hungry for clean energy news and reporters and editors know it. So, you have a special opportunity to earn media coverage that no money can buy.
Tell your story well to the right reporters and you have a better chance than most businesses of getting a positive story on the front page.
Reporters consider newsworthy any business or project that’s timely and unusual. For example, what are you doing that’s the first of its kind or the biggest so far? Are you serving a previously underserved group? Is your technology really that special according to a recognized expert?
If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then you might be able to attract news media coverage.
Contact us to see whether you have what it takes to make a good story. If we think you do, we can advise you on how to hone your story, who to tell it to, and how we might be able to help.