Insights

Communicators in Charge: The True Impact of Earned Media


Matt Robbins
Published on April 24, 2018
By Matt Robbins

Last week, we joined SocialChorus at FutureComms 2018 to learn more about current trends and major shifts in employee and internal communications. The agenda was filled with insightful talks on the transformation of comms roles, new ways of working and how the employee experience is shaping the future of brands.


 At the conference, Matt Robbins, VP of Insight and Research at LEWIS, discussed
The True Impact of Earned Media, understanding how your core brand promises are being presented in the media and the impact it has on employee communications.

Matt Robbins at FutureComms
Didn’t have the chance to attend the event? Here are the key points from the presentation:

The True Impact of Earned Media

By Matt Robbins

The perceived importance of earned media to brands is arguably at an all-time high, and for good reason. As the effectiveness of online advertising is being debated, 66% of people say they trust content from media outlets where just 47% trust content from ads that appear in online search results. The growth in the usage of ad blockers (11% of the global population used them last year) is also driving brands to pursue earned media opportunities to help convey their brand messages and promote their products and services.

While the importance of earned media is not in question, the value that it delivers to brands is very much in the air for many companies. Most organizations rely on flimsy metrics like impressions, sentiment, or poorly sourced share of voice assessments to try to represent earned media value. Some still use a ruler to create advertising value equivalencies (AVEs) that assign monetary values to earned media based on the cost to advertise on a page multiplied by the size of the article.

Even the best attempts at providing a value for earned media placements typically ignore the impact those articles, radio, or television mentions have on the employees of an organization. Productivity losses from employees or an increase in the difficulty for making new hires are both areas that can be directly tied to an organization’s bottom line and are also areas that can be impacted by earned media. A CareerBuilder survey conducted last summer showed that positive news articles contributed to higher morale among employees—more job offers being accepted and lower voluntary employee turnover. The survey also found that a shocking 71% of U.S. workers would not apply to a company that is experiencing negative earned media.

Matt Robbins speaking on earned media
Even though organizations strive for positive earned media mentions, receiving negative media mentions doesn’t mean all is lost from an employee engagement standpoint. Whether it is a crisis situation or simply wanting to get ahead of a known negative media cycle, organizations can take some clear steps to make sure earned media produces the most positive outcomes possible for their employees:

1. Share earned media mentions in real time
 

Even if it’s bad news, employees want to know what is going on. A lack of communication is one of the biggest drivers of a poor corporate culture within organizations.

2. Provide the same version of the story to employees that you do to media.

Employees are news consumers as well, and probably even more so when it comes to articles about their employer. Keep the stories straight, and don’t let there be any surprises coming from outside the organization when they could have easily been communicated internally.

3. Don’t be afraid to correct a misleading media narrative with employees.

The media doesn’t get it right all the time, and standing up for your brand can win big points among customers and employees alike. Providing verifiable facts and having the message come from a trusted source within the organization will increase the chances of successfully combating a misleading media narrative.

4. Give employees opportunities to provide feedback about earned media. 

While this may seem like a no-brainer for negative news, don’t forget to discuss positive news with them as well. The feedback can be gathered during annual employee engagement surveys or by letting them provide their thoughts over internal channels.

5. Don’t require that employees share earned media over their social channels. 

The recent push to create “employee brand advocates” can also turn employees away from sharing positive earned media mentions if the program or policy is too aggressive. For employee brand advocacy to be most effective, it needs to be authentic, and there is nothing less authentic than employer mandated social media sharing.


The next time you are out to prove the value of earned media for your organization, don’t forget about the real impact it is having on the organization’s employees. In many ways, the impact will be more sudden and longer lasting with employees than it will be with customers.

Want to learn more about FutureComms 2018? Visit the website.


Disclosure: SocialChorus is a LEWIS client. “The True Value of Earned Media” blog post was originally posted on the SocialChorus blog
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