Earned media is the backbone of your communications plan, because when done right, it’s a strategy that will allow your brand to develop the kind of recognition, trustworthiness, and authority that you need to succeed with your target demographic.
It’s also easily one of the more underestimated letters in the PESO model.
Earned media has three foundational pillars:
- Brand awareness;
- Lead generation; and
It is all about building relationships with various media, bloggers, influencers, and, in some cases, investors.
The most painful part about earned media is the time it takes.
You’re building relationships with human beings—and that just doesn’t happen overnight.
How Brand Awareness and Media Relations Work Together
Earned media is also known as publicity or media relations.
It’s what the PR industry is traditionally known for.
And it’s tangible, and powerful, because it’s a rubber-stamped seal of approval from journalists, influencers, and media that your target demographic view as an authority on the subject.
Their authority transfers to you, boosting your credibility with your market.
As well, contributed content such as guest posts, podcast appearances, and guest spots on livestreams can be as powerful—and it falls within the earned media scope.
The little known secret about earned media is you don’t have to wait for people to come to you.
(Nor do you have to wait for the relationships to be built.)
By doing the legwork of figuring out who the most important influencers in your industry are, and starting to make connections, you’re creating not only content that will help you reach your goals, you’re creating a network of people who want to help you.
This helps you get your brand in front of more potential clients, and helps you get the digital content out there in a way that search engines will start to recognize.
How Lead Generation and Earned Media Work Together
One of the simplest and most effective examples of earned media is the guest article or blog post on a website that is well known in your industry with a link leading back to your own website.
For us, that would be something like Inc. or Forbes, but depending on your brand or business, it could be the Llama Farmer’s Daily, or the Train Enthusiast Digest.
(I made up those publication names. Rather, I think I made them up. They may exist. I just don’t know it.)
Authority and relevance to your audience is… relative.
By having a high-authority, relevant website link to your own site, with the right anchor text or targeted keywords, and a compelling call-to-action, you generate leads which you can then optimize, and nurture into qualified buyers.
And, it helps you build brand awareness because you are placing interesting content in publications your prospective buyer is reading.
All that from one piece of contributed content.
I know. It boggles the mind.
But you don’t just wake up and say: I want to write for Forbes, or the Llama Farmer’s Daily.
It takes time, and it takes some credibility to be able to do that kind of thing.
How SEO and Earned Media Work Together
So let’s start a little further back along the chain.
Make sure your content is valuable, interesting, and exclusive and get to work.
I’m not being facetious. That’s really the most important part, and it’s what you SHOULD be doing already.
If you’re not sure how to take your already excellent content and never ending list of ideas and turn it into compelling earned media pitches, here’s a very quick and dirty process to get started:
- Define Your Primary Keywords. First, you need to define the top 10 specific topics you want to rank for on Google, and generally want to be associated with. Then do a Google search, using the Moz toolbar, to see which high authority publications—both blogs and media outlets—are ranking on pages one or two for that topic. This becomes your target pitch list.
- Identify Your Target Publications. Next, identify which of these places regularly take contributed content, and have previously published content that’s on a related topic to yours. This shows you they have an interest in the subject matter, and have a good likelihood of accepting your pitch. If you’re not sure how to find out if they accept submissions go up to your search bar at type site colon the sites url open quote guest close quote. Then hit enter. The results will be a list of any posts or pages on the site that have the word guest in them – so you can click through to a couple and verify if you could be one of them.
- Watch and Wait. After you create your first blog post or other piece of content for one of your primary keyword phrases or subtopics, wait 30 days before publishing your second piece of content on that topic. After you have those two pieces of content live, you are ready to start pitching other blogs and media outlets to contribute content on the topic. The reason for this is that you want to have a little background on your own site that an editor can see to make sure you know what you’re talking about.
Getting Started with Earned Media
If you still aren’t sure where to get started, or just need fresh ideas to revamp your earned media program, try these out for size.
- Create a list of books and podcasts you want to review. Every author and podcaster needs reviews and ratings to gain more traction. Publishing a thorough and honest review gives you a great conversation starter and reason to reach out, as long as you’re careful not to make it seem like it’s a tit-for-tat kind of thing. Write the review because you like the content, not to get extra benefit out of it.
- Create tags in LinkedIn. Create tags such as “influencer,” “blogger,” “journalist,” or “super cool kid” so you can follow what they post and then comment on and share it. This can be a huge time-saver.
- Answer questions on Quora. There are people out there, right now wondering what they are going to do about the specific problem your company or brand can solve. They are posting those questions on Quora. If one person is asking out loud, dozens aren’t speaking up, but they might just be lurking. Get your answers out there—and build your brand’s awareness at the same time.
Want to learn more about how all of this works together, and hear Spin Sucks community members talk about their best earned media examples?
Subscribe to the Spin Sucks podcast. You know you wanna!