Understanding Earned Media

A good earned media strategy helps organizers maximize our time and resources and makes sure our hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. So what is earned media, and how does it work? Keep reading to become an earned media expert and pick up some tips on putting the media to work for you.

What is earned media?

We’re all familiar with paid media tactics like TV ads in support candidates or issues, so understanding earned media is pretty straightforward–it’s just publicity you attract, or “earn,”  rather than pay for. Earned media usually refers to earning news coverage, either on TV or in a newspaper, but publicity on social networking sites (sometimes called new media) like Facebook and Twitter is important too.

This Austin American Statesman article about a recent rally in support of common sense gun legislation at the Texas capitol is an excellent illustration of the benefits of adding an earned media component to your events.

Some examples of earned media include:

  • News coverage of an event (like the rally at the Capitol)
  • Press conference
  • Letters to the editor
  • Airtime on a radio talk show
  • Blog posts about an event or organization
  • Social media buzz

Why is earned media better than paid media?

Paid media campaigns deliver a carefully crafted message to large audiences, but they can be expensive and it’s often unclear who’s behind the ad itself. Earned media is great because it keeps the best parts of paid media–careful messaging and large audiences–and is free! Even better, earned media naturally demonstrates widespread concern, and its messaging is more credible because it comes from neighbors rather than high-dollar ad agencies.

How do you earn media attention? What do you do once you’ve got it?

Stay tuned for more from me on best practices for catching the press’s eye, tips for the perfect press release, messaging do’s and don’ts, how to write the perfect letter to the editor, and more! In the meantime, check out the “resources for organizers” section of my What I’m Reading Page for more from around the web.

 

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