Image for Leveraging Earned Media: The New Reality of Media Relations

Earned media can continue to pay dividends when it keeps attracting attention after a successful news placement. Extending the lifespan of earned media content should be a standard part of any media relations strategy.

“While most communications programs focus heavily on securing earned media placements, the most successful ones place equal focus on extending the media placement’s impact after it has been published,” writes RJ Bruce in a blog for Chicago-based Reputation Partners.

The main job of media relations is to earn positive coverage in news outlets. That job has shifted to include collaboration with marketing, internal communications and social media staff to leverage gereater value out of successful media placements.

Earned media, as opposed to paid media, involves convincing a mediated news outlet to publish a story you pitch without compensation. The pitch could be aimed at a newspaper, trade journal, TV or radio station, social media site, podcast or influencer.  When a news outlet covers the story you pitch, it’s called earned media. Earning media coverage is the traditional role of media relations. Bruce argues for an expanded conception of that role to include extending the life of earned media coverage beyond placement.

The most efficient avenue to extend the lifespan of earned media, Bruce advises, is an organization’s own social media, website and blogs. An online newsroom offers a ready-made showcase to feature story placements. A blog provides a platform to talk about your story, incorporating quotes from your earned media. Social media allows you to make your earned media accessible and shareable.

“You already have audiences who engage with your content, and the ongoing impact of the media hit can be quantified by evaluating engagement data such as the number of likes, comments and shares.”

Here are some self-promotion tips to stretch the life of your earned media content:

  • Don’t shy away from reposting your content more than once.
  • Use tags and tease out different details and quotes from your earned media to engage targeted audiences.
  • Interact with viewers who “like” or comment on your post.
  • Create a video on your topic that includes quotes from the earned media story to post on social media.

Another fruitful avenue to extend the lifespan of earned media is approaching other news outlets and communication channels. Treat your story placement as third-party validation as you pitch the same content with a fresh angle to other news outlets. Other ideas:

  • Customizing the content for employee communications and your organization’s intranet, with an easy way for employees to share it on their personal networks.
  • Get earned media in the hands of relevant influencers with suggestions on how they might employ it.
  • Pitch content curators to include the story placement in their summaries. 

For brands, earned media can be recycled as paid content. This is a chance for the public relations, marketing and sales teams to collaborate big time. Think how earned media pitches could be based on positive customer reviews. Here are more ideas:

  • A great quote from a story could fit into a radio, television or print ad.
  • The story could be rerun in full or part as paid content.
  • Influential third parties could be encouraged to refer to or quote from the story in their own outreach.
  • Earned media can be turned into direct communications to existing or potential customers.

Treat your story placement as third-party validation as you pitch the same content with a fresh angle to other news outlets.

Here’s another tip: Distinguish your story pitch and placement promotion by including eye-catching imagery. Even if your art doesn’t make it into the original media coverage, you can include it in your own post-publication promotional efforts.

“Neglecting to leverage story placements effectively is a critical mistake,” Bruce says. “As organizations continue evaluating the cost and benefit of earned media efforts, it’s more important than ever to wring every ounce of impact out of secured media wins and prove how valuable those efforts are.”

That requires leveraging a story placement as often, in as many places and as creatively as possible. This is the new reality of media relations.