Laura Petrolino

Earned Media ROI in Three Steps

By: Laura Petrolino | January 12, 2015 | 
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Earned MediaBy Laura Petrolino

Do you want to be in the New York Times?

Maybe a mention in The Wall Street Journal?

How about a feature article in TechCrunch or VentureBeat?

What’s your earned media “wish list” and why?

What are the goals of placements in your wish list publications?

Earned Media: Objectives and Tactics

Earned media efforts might have a number of objectives: Business development and lead generation, brand awareness, maybe even a bit of a reward for an ego (while not the most strategic because ego boosts don’t build a businesses, it’s still a popular one and should be recognized).

Each goal requires a different strategy and different metrics to measure success.

Each of these objectives can by achieved through numerous strategies and tactics, which will be unique for your business.

We are going to focus on a few tactics for business development and lead generation, almost always the primary objective for earned media efforts on behalf of the Arment Dietrich clients.

We will look at how to target, place, measure, and refine your earned media outreach.

Create Your Media List

To create your media list you need two very important pieces of information:

  1. Who are your target consumers?
  2. What do they read?

Number two also requires a bit of a look into how they find and consume information

  • Do they have certain influencers they use as content curation sources?
  • Do they have stand-by publications they refer to consistently?
  • Do they trust (or not trust) certain formats, publications, influencers?
  • Do they pay attention to social and use one or more of the social networks for content curation?

If you have multiple target consumer groups, look at how they differ and how they overlap. For example, we have a client that targets both distributors and endusers. While the particular focus might be different for each, many publications will overlap.

All these details should be acknowledged when putting together your media list. 

Prioritize Objectives

If your primary objective is to generate leads then your outreach must prioritize that action.

I always try to keep in mind the two no fail rules of marketing when thinking through a tactic and how likely it will convert a reader to a visitor and a visitor to a lead:

  1. People are essentially selfish.
  2. People are essentially lazy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love people I do, but these are facts that extend to every part of life. Heck, when I consume information I’m the same way.

So how do you translate these rules into action in your earned media?

Place stories that speak directly to your reader’s needs. This might be actionable content which speaks to common pain points. It could be checklists to help them evaluate where they stack up or need to improve, it could be frequently asked questions.

Think about the content you’d use to tease a lead magnetthis will help you understand some of the content that might work best.

If you wrote a guest post (which is the easiest and most reliable way to do this since you have greater control over content and linking), place a link in the content as you would for a blog on your own site, which directs to a landing page.

Remember, most of the people reading your content are going to be new to you as a brand and your product or service, so make sure the gated content you are directing them to is top of the funnel (again, thinking about lead magnets works well here).

If you are placing an article, feature, or interview, try to focus it on the topic at hand (focus in from your first pitch on), and then include a link with a short teaser as part of your bio.

This addresses the selfish (content for their needs) and the lazy (easily link to where you want them). Badda Bing Badda Boom LEAD!

*Important note: Obviously the story you pitch should be well targeted for that publication and/or writer’s focus overall. That’s priority one, then you fit your content strategy around that. If these two things don’t fit together it’s not the right publication for you.

Measuring Success

Ok, so now we get to measuring and analyzing results.

You want to take a look at a few things:

  1. Leads collected. Obviously leads collected is the most important metric we want to focus on and what will ultimately determine hard ROIHow many leads came in through the outreach overall? Look at this both from an individual publication perspective and in comparison with other publications for better context. This is also where it is sometimes useful to look at more vanity focused metrics for context and intelligence. That can help tell you a lot about a publication, and help determine whether its readership is a good target for your business.
  2. Visitors to your site. This provides context for you. Did you have a lot of visitors, but very small conversion? Or a lot of visitors who didn’t stay on the site too long? If so, take a look at your landing page. Did you create a consistent experience from the initially placed post to when they came to your site? Was your landing page clear, visually appealing, and did it deliver what they anticipated receiving? Stats like this tell you something went wrong on the landing page site, or your website in general that scared them away. For some reason the call to action didn’t translate from placed site to your own.
  3. Time on site and pages visited. This shows interest and interaction. Maybe they weren’t ready at that point to convert to an actual lead but they were interested enough to come, stay a while, and look around. These are publications you want to continue to target and monitor, because their readers are most likely a good target.

Looking at these three things help you track the prospect’s journey. It shows interest in clicking over to your site, and outlines the actions taken from there.

This information can help you see the ROI of your earned media outreach efforts and learn important information to adjust your strategy moving forward.

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is chief marketing officer for Spin Sucks, an integrated marketing communications firm that provides strategic counsel and professional development for in-house and agency communications teams. She is a weekly contributor for their award-winning blog of the same name. Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.