What is earned media?

Earned media is what used to be known simply as “publicity”: media that shares news around an event, service, or any entity without being paid to do so. Because it’s a genuine recommendation or, at the very least, expression of interest,it remains for many a gold standard of media. Brands and their PR and marketing teams work hard to attract the kind of media interest that makes for these type of mentions, articles and interviews, as these kinds of media are still perceived to be the most effective in generating awareness and positive sentiment around a brand’s products and services.

What is the difference between earned media and paid media?

Earned media and paid media alike serve useful purposes, and both get a brand seen by an audience who might become customers. An article in a newspaper is unlikely to be paid media, while an advert in the same newspaper is – but that’s the simple part, and there are plenty of less clear-cut examples in-between. Advertorials – paid advertisements that appear as articles in a publication – are one example of paid media that often appears “disguised” as earned media, as it appears in the same formatting as a publication’s own articles. For this reason, advertorials are required to be clearly marked as paid, sponsored or partner content. For brands who feel strongly that earned media is necessary to establish their brand’s identity, it’s useful to take time to establish which publications – be they large, mainstream magazines or more focused trade journals – are genuinely interested by news about the company, or would be grateful to draw on the expertise of those behind it.

In what form does it come?

Today, earned media often comes in the form of posts from many of the public who aren’t journalists or professional writers, but have simply chosen to express their thoughts on a product or brand using their personal social media platforms – or a platform created specifically for this purpose, such as Hellopeter. For many, this has led to a somewhat murky understanding of when media is earned, because many brand endorsements are paid, and for this reason sponsored content needs to be marked just as clearly on social media as it is in conventional publications, to avoid intentional deception of audiences. For those brands whose offering is social media-friendly and invites posts from happy customers or intrigued members of the public, social media presents a world of opportunity for earned media success.

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