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Why Your Business Needs Earned Media and 5 Easy Ways to Get It

In the race to market your business and produce content, it’s important to make sure your time is well spent. With the competition for people’s attention growing every day, you need to be very strategic and make sure the media you are focused on provides the best ROI. To do so, you want to make sure that you are promoting your content across owned, earned and paid media, as well as encouraging shared media.

Exactly what are owned, earned, paid and shared media. In a sense, they are exactly what they sound like:

Owned media is any channel that a brand owns. For example, a website, a mobile site, a blog, or a twitter account.

Earned media is essentially word of mouth marketing, also known as viral marketing or buzz. Examples include customers talking about your brand, media mentions and publicity.

Paid media is what was thought of as traditional advertising. This includes print and online ads, sponsorships, or paid search that a brand uses to promote their channels and content.

While all these types of media are channels for your content, they aren’t all created equal. At a minimum, you need owned media. Paid media can still be a valuable compliment to other initiatives. Earned media is far and away the most valuable.

It’s a Review Economy – Social Proof Matters

The world has moved away from relying solely on advertising [paid media]. According to the Nielson Trust in Advertising Survey, consumer trust in advertising has been on a steady decline for years. Consumers do however trust recommendations and reviews from friends and family, online reviews, and the media – in that order. In other words, they trust earned media. Why? Because earned media is social proof. It’s proof your business means something to someone, and that others are willing to stand behind you, talk about your brand in a positive way as well as recommend you. They trust you.

Let’s take a look at exactly what earned media can do for your business and some really easy ways to get more of it.

What Can Earned Media Do For Me?

Earned media is someone else singing your praises. It can be a recommendation, the media writing about you, a positive review, or a tweet about your business. It leverages marketing tactics like word-of-mouth, social media and online reviews to really boost your business. It has the highest value because it is someone else talking about you, providing third party credibility…. Because no one cares or trusts, what you say about you, it’s what ‘they say about you’ that matters.

But it’s what earned media can do for your business that’s pretty great. It can:

Help you build up your brand. I’ll be honest, if someone I trust recommends a business, I’m very likely to check it out. The more mentions, comments and reviews your business gets, the more others will start to see just how great your business is. Which leads us to …

Establish your business as an industry leader. Having your name mentioned across the web and on various media outlets pretty much solidifies you as an industry leader. And who doesn’t want their business to be looked up to and respected?

Help you build relationships with other leaders in your niche. Everyone wants to work with the best, the top people. You’ll begin to attract other top experts and leaders, who will see all the mentions you are getting and want to find out who you are. This creates conversations, relationships and alliances that all parties can benefit from. The more you reciprocate, the more you get back.

Bring you more website traffic. More mentions means more visibility; think backlinks and social media shares. Earned media takes advantage of others’ established audiences and puts you in front of them. It also directs them all back to your site for free.

 5 Easy Ways to Get Started – It’s All About Relationships

Earned media can come in many forms, but here are 5 of my favorite types. Each of these are easy to do and incredibly effective.

#1 Recommendations

We’ve touched on this a little already, but it’s so important that we have to discuss it in depth.

Consumers trust personal recommendations. People like to do business with people they ‘know, like and trust’. In fact, according to this study, 84% of consumers stated that they trust recommendations from someone they know. 74% of consumers claim that word of mouth is their key influencer for making purchasing decisions in this study.

And the beauty of this method is that you are tapping into your biggest raving fans and promoters: your current customers!

To get more recommendations from them, try:

Creating a simple, repeatable process to request recommendations. Make it easy for people to do so.

Asking. I know, sounds so simple. Because it is. Right after a customer has completed a transaction or project (and is obviously happy) is the best time to ask. A simple “If you know anyone who could use our services/products, we’d appreciate a recommendation” works. Satisfied customers are always likely to refer you if they know someone.

Incentivizing and offering stuff. If a business I love is offering a great deal, I’ll talk them up to others. Alternatively, you can offer your current customers a discount or incentive for every referral they send.

Being thankful. This should be obvious, but if you get recommended, thank the person who did it. It encourages them to continue recommending you.

#2 Online Reviews

Did you know that over 85% of consumers read up to 10 online reviews before deciding on a business or purchase? And that 72% of those consumers claim that positive reviews actually influence them to trust a business?

Online reviews are more common, and more influential than ever. Like recommendations from friends and colleagues, it doesn’t hurt to ask for these reviews. Make it easy for customers to review your business by:

Setting up your profiles. Get on multiple sites like Yelp, Google Local and Trip Advisor. Add your contact information and images to complete your profile.

Letting customers know you are on these sites. Post a sign in your office or a banner on your website that lets customers know you are on these review sites.

Setting up a review page on your site. That makes it easy to submit reviews, which once submitted can be showcased on your testimonials or about us page.

#3 The Media

Media coverage and public relations aren’t dead. In fact, according to a recent study from Ogilvy PR, “the more the (traditional) media covers a brand, the more credible the brand appears.”

You may be wondering how to get attention in the media. There are many ways, including press releases, pitching stories and through building relationships with reporters and publications, you can promote your business without being pushy.

Some tips to get started:

Have a plan. Even a simple one-page PR plan will help keep you focused and taking action.

Check online resources. Free sites like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) connect journalists with sources. Sign up to get daily listings of reporters looking for business like yours to contribute to their stories.

Read publications and identify the journalists that write about your topic. Start building a list of publications you would like to be featured in. Then start to build relationships with them.

Set up Google Alerts – see my quick tutorial on this – these can help you identify publications and journalists, as well as track media mentions for you, your company, your competitors…. Reverse engineer successful competitors to see where they are getting media coverage.

Journalists are social. It’s never been easier to connect with journalists on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter. Follow journalists, share their stories and comment on them. Value their work and get on their radar. When you are ready to pitch them your name will be familiar, and they will be more receptive.

#4 Social Media Shares

We couldn’t have a list of earned media methods without mentioning social media. This is where many people go to get their news and recommendations.

You don’t have to be on all social networks. Instead, focus your efforts on the site most popular with your target audience. Tips to make the most of social media include:

Make sure your business profiles are consistent, complete and optimized. Fill out all your contact information and use keywords to help you get found. Share useful information, blog posts and business updates.

Follow others. Follow industry leaders and influencers. By following them and sharing their updates, they’ll notice you, probably start to build a relationship, and there’s a chance they will reciprocate.

Demonstrate great customer service and appreciation. Social media, especially Face book and Twitter, is where many people go to rave about businesses. Make it easy for them by having excellent customer service. Acknowledge people by name who mention you or share your content.

Make it easy to share your content. Tools like Social Warfare and strategically placed share buttons on your website and blog can facilitate one click sharing, allowing your visitor to easily post your content out to their networks when they are inspired to.

#5 Blogger Outreach

Today’s bloggers have reached celebrity status, become recognized as media outlets, and become highly influential. By forming relationships with influential bloggers, you increase the chances of being able to share their great content, as well as your business being mentioned in their posts and social networks.

Get started by:

Researching prominent blogs in your industry. You may already follow a few. To find new ones, turn to Google, social media or use BuzzStream to help you find sites faster.

Reaching out to bloggers. Before sending that email to pitch them to, take the time to read their blog to get a better idea of who they are and what they write about. Also think of what you have to offer them. Bloggers are much more like to do you a favor if you have something to offer in return.

Showing some love first. Comment, share and retweet a blogger’s content. We all appreciate those who show their appreciation for our work and brand. Bloggers are no different, even if their blog is already very popular.

Earned media works. By building relationships with your prospects, customers, partners bloggers and the media, you are helping grow your brand in the most positive way. By inspiring others to talk about your business you are gaining exposure and 3rd party credibility. As we have seen, user-generated content – earned media, is the most trusted form of flattery and promotion we can have today. Try any of these 5 methods and watch your business increase dramatically.

Related Content:

Before you Pitch the Media – 10 Things The Media Wishes You Knew

How Not to Be One of the 45% of HARO Media Pitches That Suck