The Importance of Earned Media to Your Marketing Strategy
As a growing business, you probably find it's all or nothing in terms of earned media -- or publicity, as it's more commonly referred to. If you have a lot of contacts in the media world, you'll probably leverage them to raise awareness of your product or services. If that world is alien to you, you're more likely to overlook it completely, focusing on more immediate promotional avenues like advertising and online marketing. Either way, there's no doubt that publicity can play an important part in early brand development.
Separating Paid, Owned, and Earned Media AttentionIn order to increase awareness of what they do, lesser-known businesses need to access the audiences of others. The various ways to achieve this goal are typically broken down into three categories: paid, earned, and owned media. While paid media placement is certainly one way to do this, it gets very expensive very quickly. Stumping up for space at the top of Google's search listings or for a traditional type of broadcast ad carries a cost for every click or segment of air time, which is a reliable way to get a message out there but always carries the condition that if you stop paying, your coverage ends immediately. Owned media, such as social networking, website content, and any other channel you control, doesn't carry this direct cost, but businesses must still pay for the time spent in set-up and maintenance. These days it takes a lot to build a social following or make a website stand out from the crowd, so there are clear limitations on communicating solely via organic reach on owned media platforms. That leaves media offered by others, such as journalists, reporters, bloggers, industry experts, or indeed anyone influential in a given field or medium. For the purposes of publicity and influencer marketing, we talk about earned media: coverage that your business attains by being remarkable or attracting attention through actions that are worth writing about and reporting to others. News stories and securing online comments or shares from influencers is widely regarded as the best route to this kind of coverage. There are lots of people paying attention and, in most cases, the media source already has their trust and respect. A portion of that credibility is passed on to any product, service, or story they show in a positive light, which is why it's labeled "earned." You have to earn respect, first from the influencer, then from the audience they serve.
What Makes My Business "Newsworthy"?How do you tell what aspect of your business the media will deem worthy? First and foremost, news outlets need to talk about what is, well, new. New and entertaining, or even exciting. That may be something that is unique in the market, an innovative product or service, or something that demonstrates an emerging trend. Remember that just because something is of interest to you or your industry, that does not immediately make is newsworthy for a wider audience. You must always think of the end consumer when you craft a press release or story you want to be shared by others. Try the family test here: if it fails to interest your nearest and dearest, it definitely will not work as a news piece! As an example from our own industry, it's even possible to turn your marketing itself into the message. As long as the story is different or the hook compelling, you stand a chance of standing out.
Vanity Numbers Can Contain a Story (Or Even Be One)Most of the time, you will find that you can weave your memorable number into the narrative of a wider story that is worth coverage. On some special occasions, you will even find that your vanity number is newsworthy in its own right. We felt this was the case with Holdy Realty, for example, whose memorable million number was pivotal in helping them to run a successful marketing campaign in a tough real estate market. If you can find an angle on your vanity number that makes it a crucial player in the story, all the better. It will obviously work in your favor to have your direct contact number prominently featured in the press. If you can find an angle on your vanity number that makes it a crucial player in the story, all the better. It will obviously work in your favor to have your direct contact number prominently featured in the press, and being the core of the story. Another example comes from the inspiration behind 1-877-IT-MATTERS, the number around which Florida-based Madalon Law has created so many memorable campaigns. In a legal environment often seen as obsessed with financial compensation, Madalon strives to earn attention and trust by focusing on the ones who matter most, the individuals behind the case and how legal advice can help them. This is not an easy connection to make, of course, and you will probably have to do some lateral thinking to find the right angle to pitch for publicity. That creativity will pay off, however, in the form of increased exposure. Not to mention the satisfying sight of hitting the headlines with a marketing tool that has the ability to generate its own earned media!
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