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What’s the Value of Earned Media? The Need for Expert Content

By Brianne Carlon RushMay 15, 2014

value of earned media
Your team is hard at work creating narrative, useful content based on buyer personas and pain points, and you’ve got content distribution locked and loaded. Social media channels are covered and you’ve even secured budget for some advertising. Looks like you’ve got content marketing under control.

But here’s the million-dollar question: Does your audience believe in the content you are putting out there? According to recent research by Nielsen (commissioned by InPowered), you may want to consider incorporating old-school public relations into your digital repertoire to gain trust among your buyers. Relying on PR best practices in the online world can secure you earned media—that expert content you didn’t write about your product or service but love seeing. You know, in the Wall Street Journal or on Mashable.

The March 2014 report, “The Role of Content in the Consumer Decision Making Process,” makes it clear consumers prefer earned media at each stage of the decision making process due to the non-biased position of third party experts.  In fact, the research shows earned media is 80 percent more effective than branded content in the middle and bottom of the sales funnel and 38 percent more effective during the familiarity stage. 

The report concludes: “Overall, our research suggests that there is a higher degree of trust from consumers when they are reading content from credible, third party experts. This trust is demonstrated by the higher lift scores with regard to product familiarity, affinity and purchase intent and its perception of being highly informative and unbiased.”

Bottom line: If you are not currently engaging in best practices for generating earned media, now is the time to start.

Incorporating Earned Media into Your Content Strategy

Realistically, for most brands—if they aren’t Apple, Amazon or Audi—securing earned media isn’t always easy. We need to take extra steps to earn our place in the media. But where do we even begin? 

Here are three tactics to strengthen the chances of earning a place in the spotlight:   

  1. Help a Reporter Out (HARO): We all wish we had a publicity genie that granted our wishes for getting our products and brands in the news. Well HARO—or Help a Reporter Out—is your wish come true. As the name suggests, HARO helps reporters find sources for their stories fast. (As a former freelance writer, trust me, HARO is a lifesaver for reporters.)

    When you subscribe to HARO, you get free alerts from the media about stories they are working on. If your product or expertise fits the bill, you can respond and—voila!—your brand may be in the news.

    The key to being successful is treating the platform with respect. Only reply to queries your brand genuinely qualifies for, and do not spam journalists with pitches. With HARO’s help, you may earn some drool-worthy media coverage.
  1. Reach Out to Bloggers: Notable bloggers are like the trusted newspaper journalists of 10 years ago. They can help your brand become the go-to thought leader in your industry or introduce your product to a whole new market.

    Getting your brand noticed by these writers can make a huge impact on your business, but you can’t just send out a press release and expect your product to be front-page news.

    Blogger outreach is all about building relationships. Be sure to do your research to see which writers would be a good fit for your brand. Are you selling baby or household products? Mommy bloggers are an online force driving tons of sales. Selling a service platform in desperate need of increased demo signups? You probably wouldn’t mind being mentioned on TechCrunch, huh? But the work does not end there. Click here for Kuno’s seven blogger outreach best practices.
  1. Don’t Forget Social: Earned media also extends to the social world. All those likes, retweets and shares are not wasted on your audience—in fact, they can actually boost your sales. A whopping 68 percent of consumers admit to being more likely to buy a specific product or visit a retailer based on a positive referral from a Facebook friend.

    To encourage social engagement, give your audience a reason to interact and share your content. First and foremost, make sure it is entertaining or educational. Victoria Ransom shares three other ways to grow earned media on social channels here.

This isn't to say you should give up on your branded content. Instead, build trust with expert content and continue that trust by solving buyer pain points with your branded content. You know the drill! 

Earning your brand in the spotlight isn’t easy, but it is worth the effort. What are your tips for garnering earned media? Share with us in the comment section below.

Buy-in, Budgets, & Best Practices photo credit: jDevaun
Additional Topics: Content and Design
The Author

Brianne Carlon Rush

After developing the Kuno Creative content marketing department and growing it by 500%, Brianne has expanded her role to help grow the inbound marketing agency in size, revenue and resources. She now focuses on sales and marketing alignment; employee recruiting, hiring and development; and communication strategies, while still dedicating time to client strategy and Kuno’s marketing efforts.
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