Earned Media: The ‘Sliced Bread’ of Marketing

by Anthony Stipa.

As brands search for ways to elevate their message through noisy modern mediums, there’s a tried-and-true tactic that’s been around as long as, if not longer than, sliced bread. And it should have a place in your 2021 marketing budget.

With a modest investment, earned media — better known as “PR” — can deliver quantifiable results. Not just awareness, or that good feeling you get when somebody’s paying attention to you, either. Meaningful, convertible leads that impact your bottom line.

Over the years, the approach has changed, naturally, as newsrooms shrink across the country and platforms evolve and take on digital forms. Still, the concept is the same: get a timely, relevant, authentic story into the hands of a credible writer, and you’ll hit the proverbial lottery.

How you identify the right story and trend to tap into is the “why” of how you justify hiring a firm or specialist who can secure these opportunities. Together, they will take you through an audit of what you have in stock — your share of voice, reputation, and the unique personas of leaders on the team who can weigh-in on important issues-of-the-moment.

From there, it’s about creating a roadmap from A to Z that achieves goals in harmony with your business. Vanity press is worthless. Getting your opinion and voice in front of decision makers who can buy your product or service? Priceless.

At Quickstudy Consulting, a strategic partner of Bongo Consulting, my philosophy is to take the baton and run fast. There’s no time to let the competition catch up (or widen their lead) on your business.

Any good public relations firm should know that the work is only beginning once a media opportunity is secured. Media training and preparation — for the client and the journalist — is of the utmost importance. And in order to make your point ‘stick’, you’ve got to have the key phrases and sentiment that influences headlines.

Once that hurdle is cleared, earned media can take many forms. It’s going to appear in print, online, a daily newsletter, or social media. Can you control this message? Is it bulletproof from the critics and trolls? Nothing is, and that is why you hire a professional in 2021.

Keep in mind, when the eyeballs are scrolling and the clicks are clacking, true digital integration is what takes the casual reader and makes them a believer in your product or service. Seamlessly getting them to maneuver to the ‘demo’ or ‘contact us’ page requires a subtle art of persuasion. On the backend, use the best free tool at your disposal — Google Analytics — to see who’s visiting your site and what individual decisions they are making once they arrive.

Any proper earned media campaign requires a report of how many referrals were driven to your site by hyperlinks. From there, you can decipher how effective this campaign was to your business.

In a recent project I ran with a fast-growing technology client, we were able to garner six live demo requests for their software product as a result of earned media. If even half of those contracts come to fruition, that could be greater than six figures in revenue for the company.

Before you invest in the latest digital trends, or a standard ‘PR firm’, think about what you really want to achieve. Find a way to marry business goals with awareness and storytelling. Earned media doesn’t sound ‘sexy’, but hey, neither does sliced bread. Most people are still making sandwiches and eating toast.

Anthony Stipa is the founder of Quickstudy Consulting, and a strategic partner of Bongo Consulting. Quickstudy excels at creating, packaging, safeguarding, and delivering public relation communications that create brand awareness and business results.