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In a nutshell, earned media is an unpaid opportunity that a business or individual secures for themselves on a relevant and prominent platform for their audience. An example could be a feature in a newspaper, trade publication, or monthly magazine. Alternatively, it could take the form of being publicised by a well-known influencer on Instagram. In recent years, one of the most successful forms of earned media is securing online media coverage that includes a link to a relevant business webpage.
Earned media is a way for businesses to increase brand awareness, establish themselves as experts in their industries, improve SEO and domain authority and build better backlink profiles. Perhaps most importantly, earned media opens up communication channels with a large, relevant, and targeted audience.
Get the balance right
Businesses must get the balance of earned, paid and owned media correct. All three areas overlap and each one has an impact on the other. Paid media is exactly what it says on the tin, it is any paid-for media that a business might execute – TV ads, radio spots, PPC adverts and sponsored social posts. Owned media is anything that a business produces and issues through their channels, this includes any content on a business website, blog posts, and social channels.
This is different from earned media, that is content about the business that has been created by somebody else and published somewhere other than the business channels.
In effect, earned media is an amplification of an organisation’s efforts in paid and owned media. It is the opportunity for news sites and social media users to pick up on campaigns and help spread the word. Examples include press coverage, social media mentions, shares and retweets, product or company reviews, and blog posts authored outside of the business.
Earned media is valuable to businesses as it tends to be more trusted and credible, as it is from a third-party source. The value of press mentions is as valuable as ever, especially at the moment when it is vital for businesses to be as open and transparent as possible.
A recent example of an earned media being executed brilliantly and having great results is the new Meatless Farm campaign.
The Leeds-based vegan food producer launched a £1.5 million paid media campaign. The campaign slogan gained attention and controversy due to suggestive language when it appeared on TV, radio adverts, 12 branded electric cars across London, social media, and supermarket packaging.
To ensure that the paid campaign was a success, they also invested in earned and owned media. All of the businesses owned channels (social and the website) reflected and promoted the new campaign.
From an earned media prospective, the campaign garnered masses of media and social attention with coverage in national publications including the London Evening Standard and the Guardian. They had provided data, photography, and expert comments to the media to support the campaign and engaged across social media and it was a huge success!
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