Earned Media, Explained in 400 Words or Less [Examples]

Earned Media, Explained in 400 Words or Less [Examples]

These publications and broadcasts are where brands used to get all their earned media. As digital marketing and social media continue to evolve, so will earned media -- and departments other than public relations, like marketing and customer service, will become more responsible for capturing earned media attention. Is social media earned media? Social media can be considered owned, paid, or earned media. If a customer posts about this product on his/her own account, this is a form of earned media. This, too, is earned media. But if you create your own content, and "earn" traffic to this content from ranking highly on search engines, the traffic you receive to this content is, in some ways, earned media. Similarly, a press release you write following a product launch serves to encourage others in the industry to share your news on other publications. How do you "earn" earned media? Also, make it easy for people to actually share your content by placing social share buttons where appropriate.

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Remember when people used to learn about upcoming events, the latest trends, and cool new products exclusively from magazines, newspapers, and TV shows?

These publications and broadcasts are where brands used to get all their earned media. But earned media has expanded beyond print and TV, and marketers can harness it in several ways.

Earned media, or earned content, is any material written about you or your business that you haven’t paid for or created yourself. Although this type of media is always published by a third party, there are ways marketers can position themselves for earned media opportunities.

In many ways, earned media’s nickname is “publicity.” You haven’t paid for this media to be created — the way you would for, say, an advertisement — and therefore your actions alone “earned” you this attention. But because the places we get information have changed over the last 30 years, how has earned media changed as a result?

Still you might also hear earned media referred to as “free media,” because you haven’t paid for this media to take place.

How Earned Media Has Changed

Earned media used to be the 90-minute segment on cable news about a new consumer product. And to some extent, this is still a critical source of earned media.

However, earned media now also comes in the form of a customer tweet about “the best brunch ever!” at a restaurant that got several likes and retweets. It’s that horrible Yelp review about how a different customer had “the worst brunch ever” at that very same restaurant. And, it’s that technology blogger’s “Top 10 Apps of The Year” article that was viewed and shared by thousands of people after you launched your new mobile app.

What Earned Media Isn’t

Earned media isn’t publicity you pay for or own. When a company pays a publication to write a glowing article about them, for example, that’s not an example of paying for earned media — that’s just paid media. And when you write a blog post for your company blog about your latest product release, that’s not earned media, either — that’s owned media, since you own that blog post.

The distinctions are fairly clear between these camps, but they’re important for any marketer to know.

How effective is earned media?

In short, very. Today’s consumers are influenced greatly by family, friends, and what they read and see online. People no longer share the good, the bad, and the ugly of brands exclusively at the water cooler — they share it with everyone they’re connected with online, which can include hundreds, thousands, or maybe even millions of people.

And a lot of those people listen and use those stories to make buying decisions. In fact, according to HubSpot Research, 57% of people in the U.S. trust what they hear from friends and family the most when they discover a new product. About one third of U.S. buyers prefer what information they can find from a Google search.

As digital marketing and social media continue to evolve, so will earned media — and departments other than public relations, like marketing and customer service, will become more responsible for capturing earned media attention.

To make sure you’re caught up on this “web 2.0” version of an old-school term, let’s dive into what earned media means today and the various ways you can use it in your marketing.

Earned Media Examples

You may have heard of earned media as compared with paid media and owned media. As we hinted to above, there are pretty thick lines between paid media, owned media, and earned media: You “pay” for paid media, you “own” owned media, and you “earn” earned media. To show you what this looks like in practice, here are some common examples of earned media today.

TV News Segment

If your business makes a big-enough splash in its industry, you can still expect to see earned media in the form of a 90-second news spot on a local (or national) station. This is some of the oldest earned media out there, and it still occurs today.

For example, a business that relocates its headquarters to a new city — and promotes that relocation online — might capture an interview opportunity with the city’s local news station about some of the new jobs it will be hiring for.

Newspaper Article

Newspapers, both in print and online, constantly share big community developments that impact people both locally and nationally. So, just like a story on TV about a new business development, local newspapers can just as easily pick this story up and write it down for online readers.

Twitter might revolve around trending topics worldwide, but there are also countless smaller communities of Twitter users who broadcast their thoughts on issues related to their industry. A tweet, therefore, is a tiny instance of earned media. But it depends on whom the tweet comes from.

Is social media earned media?

Social media can be considered owned, paid, or earned media. It depends on what content is posted and who posts it. If a business sponsors a post about a new product, this is a form of…

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