The goal of posting, sharing and promoting content is always the same: to get it in front of as many interested eyes as possible. Whether it’s a blog post hosted on your site or it’s sharing your newest ebook with an editor at Forbes, you’re spreading your message and raising brand awareness in hopes of gaining loyal customers and clients.
But there’s more to earned media than just getting traffic from a top-tier site. By promoting earned media and sharing it with the right people, you can gain exposure on a one-to-one basis as a representative of your brand.
What is earned media?
The results of earned media aren’t as reliable as paid media and less controllable than owned media; however, much like paid and owned media, it has unique value to offer. Earned media is coverage about your brand or content on a third-party site achieved through public relations tactics. If you’re aiming for coverage of your content, it needs to be coverage-worthy: Does it create something new? Is it a practical, valuable resource that can be used again and again?
There are many types of content you can host on your own site that hold weight when pitching to editors, journalists and bloggers:
- How-to guides or cheat sheets
- Online tools or resources
Note that “new products” didn’t make it on to the above list – while newsworthy new product releases are certainly something you want to share with the media (bloggers and journalists in the appropriate niche), those announcements should be separate from your content distribution and promotion plan.
It’s also important to know that earned media coverage doesn’t just “happen”– to get the best and most placements, you should be distributing your media-worthy content to the appropriate editors at top-choice media outlets. This involves creating a targeted media list, crafting angles and unique pitches for the bloggers and journalists you’re pitching, and following through on requests.
So what’s this hidden benefit?
When most marketers hear “earned media,” they think they’ll get a lot of traffic – and quickly. While the traffic boost is certainly the most prominent and measurable reward for earned placement, consider these additional benefits:
- Great content is a great conversation starter. What other reason would you have to contact that aforementioned editor at Forbes? Content is an excellent hook, and consistently good content is a great help in maintaining the relationship.
- Create goodwill between your brand and a real human being. Genuine helpfulness and spot-on targeting (alongside a strong pitch with the right angle) shows that you’re interested in more than Web traffic – you feel this information is essential to share. Who doesn’t love a brand that takes the time to be personable?
- Develop future opportunities. Once you’ve established relationships with experts in your industry, consider running content by them before it’s published or including their writings or quotations in the final product – content not only builds bridges, it reinforces them, too.
- One-to-one brand advocacy. Every single piece of communication you share, internally or externally, helps to build your brand. Pitching your essential how-to guide is no different. This is your chance to be remarkable toward the media that matter most.
The beauty of this type of promotion is that no communication is wasted – you’ll learn quickly what people want, while showing that your brand is sincerely interested in sharing only the most appropriate information.
Tips for pitching great content
- Ensure your brand is adhered to when sharing new content – educate your internal staff or external agency on proper messaging and brand feel.
- Always offer something valuable – if it’s not useful or interesting, it’s not worth writing about. Take advantage of your existing relationships to get a second opinion on the resource’s usefulness before you start production.
- Communication should always be professional, timely, thorough and appropriate for the person and outlet you’re hoping to reach.
Ultimately, you’re reaching out to real people with real interests, so treat them as such. Earned media isn’t just a numbers game – take advantage of your opportunity for connection by eliminating strict pitch templates and adding in a personal touch. For more information on what to pitch and how to pitch it, check out DigitalRelevance’s Content Promotion Cheat Sheet.