Market Analytics Platform

17 May, 2023

Understanding Earned Media and what it means for Strategy

In today’s digital age, effective marketing strategies involve utilising various media channels to reach and engage with target audiences. Three key types of media often come into play: paid media, earned media, and owned media. Each of these media categories has distinct characteristics, benefits, and approaches. In this discussion, we will focus on earned media and explore how to use this media type as part of your strategy and how you measure success.

What is earned Media?

Earned media can be defined as coverage, exposure or visibility generated for your brand, product or service which has been generated and distributed voluntarily by a third party or partner.

Examples of earned media can range from organic, offline sources such as personal recommendations or word-of-mouth as well as digital recommendations such as online reviews, to more institutionalised forms such as an editorial or article from a magazine, newspaper or across radio or TV.

How Earned Media Affects Strategy

Earned media, although not directly purchasable, serves as an invaluable indicator for gauging the tone of your campaign message or idea. While it may take longer to influence compared to other media types, its impartiality lends it greater trustworthiness than paid or owned sources.

Recent online review statistics reveal that approximately 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (BrightLocal, 2020). Additionally, Cision’s State of the Media report highlights that consumer distrust of paid media is on the rise, while 92% of consumers still place their trust in earned media (communiquepr.com).

This heightened trust places a greater responsibility on brands. In a landscape where media cannot be directly bought, understanding the true value proposition is crucial for influencing and making an impact.

How to Influence Strategy

While direct control over earned media is unachievable, brands can still influence it. The implementation of a comprehensive content strategy, centred around providing value, becomes key to a successful strategy. Newsworthy content that resonates with both media needs and caters to the needs of end users and consumers is the ideal middle ground.

Tools like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) can help you better understand the type of newsworthy content you should generate. Additionally, partnering with PR and communications agencies can provide guidance by leveraging their expertise in crafting newsworthy content and tapping into their network of interested parties.

Incorporating earned media strategies into your day-to-day business operations can be achieved by reviewing existing processes and actively engaging with customers to encourage reviews. Nearly half (47 percent) of all internet users worldwide post reviews about products, companies, or services each month (GlobalWebIndex, 2019).

Despite its power, it’s vital for brands to consider all aspects of earned media. As a brand, you have limited control over the final message, timing, and medium. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise extra diligence in brand messaging and tone. When seeking to accelerate your earned media, consider the ultimate placement of your message or content. Assess how it might be perceived alongside the messaging, products, or reviews of competitors or substitute services. Be mindful that these placements can greatly impact your brand’s reputation.

How to Measure Success

The slow-moving pace of earned media can be challenging to monitor and measure compared to other media types. It often relies on indirect or offline references that are less trackable than paid or owned media channels. However, implementing a robust reporting and tracking framework becomes essential to gauge the impact of earned media.

Monitoring tools can track mentions, reach and engagement across social media, online review platforms, and media coverage. Additionally, incorporating metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) surveys can provide insights into a customers’ likelihood to provide offline recommendations and overall sentiment towards your brand.

While the costs and returns of earned media are more indirect, a commonly used metric to assess the effectiveness of an earned media strategy is Earned Media Value (EMV). EMV helps quantify the value generated by your media efforts and can aid in evaluating the impact of your campaigns.

A basic calculation for EMV is:

EMV = impressions x cost per 1000 impressions x adjustable variable (eg. engagement, clicks, sales or impressions)

Part two and three in the series will explore what is owned media and what is paid media.

Read more

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