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Molly Baker

Published on

May 11, 2021


earned media, PR, public relations

So, you’re putting together your public relations strategy and wondering if earned media is still a crucial element to reach your target audience, and raise brand awareness? To put it simply: yes, but there is a lot more as to why earned media is not only still relevant, but also plays a key role in your media strategy.

What’s the Difference Between Each Media Type?

Let’s first back up and look at what earned media is and what makes it different than the other forms of media, paid media and owned media. To start, owned media is any content your brand/business “owns.” This can include a brands social media channels, blogs, websites and other content on their marketing platforms. Paid media, as the name suggests is anything your brand pays for. This media strategy is a way to amplify your owned media and can include paid advertising, sponsored content, promoted media and pay-per-click strategy.

Person walking in front of wall with art

Most PR professionals know effective media relations strategies don’t involve just one media channel but a combination of all three. Earned media might not seem as effective as owned or paid because it is not something you can necessarily “control” but is extremely valuable in helping your brand stand out from its competitors in the crowded media landscape.

What is Earned Media?

In a nutshell, earned media is any material written about your business that you have not paid for. This type of content that is published by a third party can come from a variety of sources. Traditional PR platforms where earned media coverage appears include news and media outlets (local, trade, national), industry awards, reviews sites and even word of mouth. On these various platforms, these types of “earned” media can range from a small mention to a feature story, thought leadership interviews, business and product reviews, award wins, and even your brand being talked about amongst others.

These earned media wins are not a revolutionary concept but, thanks to the rise in digital marketing, there are other earned media opportunities — including leveraging social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) in your PR strategy. Tweets, reposts and other various forms of social media engagement are becoming one of the most popular lead generation channels for gaining earned media. Likewise for SEO, businesses and brands are able to “earn” organic traffic through their search engine optimization strategy, helping their owned media perform better and results in earned media value.

How to Earn Your Earned Media

Now you may be asking yourself, “How exactly do I ‘earn’ earned media,” since it may seem like it’s out of your hands. However, this is not entirely true. There are various ways PR pros can facilitate earned media into their PR strategy. The first step is creating an earned media strategy that best aligns with their business goals. Next, a brand can amplify earned media by creating valuable content, targeting relevant publications, leveraging social media and keeping the customers happy.

Valuable Content = Valued Earned Content

Creating valuable content is one way of boosting earned media. High-quality, interesting content that represents your brand is more likely to get noticed and shared than your run-of-the mill content. This also gives your brand a chance to create material that is core to business and, when picked up, shared, mentioned and written about by third parties, builds that credibility mentioned earlier.

Relevant Media Relations

Target relevant publications and journalist is a way to help boost your earned media. Defining which journalists and publications best suit the content your business is looking to spread not only helps your material “stick” but also helps create relationships with the press. Having good media relationships is crucial for steady press coverage and, in turn, earned media. PR pros can additionally boost their earned media when sharing something “newsworthy” in their media or broadcast pitch that cuts through the noise for many journalists.

Savvy Social

Leverage social media. Using social media is also a great way to gain earned media and while the content on your channels is technically “owned” media, this can play a pivotal role in earning media through retweets, social reposts and other interactions. A pro tip for creating content on your social channels that is worth sharing is using social monitoring tools. This helps your brand get a better landscape for what their target audience finds most valuable, what content resonates most with them, what trends in the social media landscape your brand can leverage, and lastly what your target audience is sharing from your competitors.

Happy Customers

Lastly, keep the customers happy. Sounds simple right? As many PR and business pros know, we are living in the age of the consumer. Keeping the customer happy is a tale as old as time and, in the media landscape, one of great importance. Happy customers can help you earn media because satisfied consumers are more likely to leave ratings on review sites and your own platforms, and to consequently share about your business through word of mouth. The most convincing piece of evidence for consumers can be online review and reputation.

These various types of ways to “earn” earned media are beneficial to your business because it helps boost your brand awareness, increase credibility and expand reach. Earning media on trusted outlets and news publications not only validates your own content but gives your brand third-party credibility. Consumers are looking for trusted sources. Having your content featured on one of these sources builds that trust between your brand and consumers. Additionally, as your brand increases in popularity, the more earned media your brand obtains, the more your efforts will yield significant influence. Likewise, earned media gives a business a chance to reach a wide variety of audiences — best of all it’s free!


Feel like you know the answer to “what is earned media?,” and get the picture on why earned media and earned media value are still crucial for your media strategy? Without an earned media strategy, your PR campaign won’t yield the same results and, most importantly, the best PR strategy uses a combination of earned, owned and paid in tandem to achieve the best results.

Need help getting your earned media campaign off the ground? Reach out to our public relations agency today.

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