Earned Media

Earning a Place in the Public Conversation

Earned media goes beyond public relations to include opportunities to increase mind share.

When we announced the new R+K agency structure last year – reorganized to focus on paid, owned, and earned media and how we interact with the customer – there were a few questions, a little bit of uncertainty, and a lot of excitement. Personally, I was excited about evolving the way we talk about what we offer, from “public relations” to a focus on what we really achieve, earned media.

After all – explaining Earned Media is a lot easier than the often-nebulous idea of Public Relations. Earned media is what we do to develop relationships and influence opinions toward the goal of greater awareness and positive perception – it’s how we earn the content and coverage that moves the needle in favor of our clients.  

Since I started in this industry more than 20 years ago, I’ve heard many non-PR clients and colleagues ask, “Can we do some PR for this project?” when what they really mean is “Can we do some media relations for this project?” Media relations has traditionally been the foundation of many PR programs. But as communications channels expand and opportunities grow, PR encompasses more and more practices.

Earning a Place in the Conversation

By looking at our department through the lens of Earned Media, we ensure plans are comprehensive and strategic – not just a bunch of independent tactics that are called a plan because they’re strewn together in a single presentation.

When we think about earned media, we expand the goal from where we can get media coverage to where we can earn mindshare. Some of the same channels are used by our colleagues in paid media. The difference is in how they are accessed. Earned media is achieved through one of the tenets of media relations – relationship building, rather than through paid promotion or a media buy.

Earned Media Can Be….

  • Social Media – When consumers are inspired to post about your brand on their channels.
  • SEO – When organic web content boosts your brand’s search ranking
  • Influencer Relations – When the positive perception of your brand entices influencers and bloggers to communicate about it
  • Customer Reviews – When customers advocate for your brand at no cost to the brand
  • Word of Mouth – When customers advocate for your brand to each other
  • Media Relations – When journalists write about your brand at no cost to the brand

Understanding Shared Media

During our restructure, a few people asked where Shared Media lives within our agency Paid-Owned-Earned model. At R+K, we believe Shared shouldn’t live on its own. It’s an aspiration of the earned, owned and even paid channels. In earned media, you earn trust so your target audience will share information about your brand on their channels. With owned media, you share information about your brand your way – on your channels. In paid media, you pay to promote your brand on channels. At R+K, we believe that shared media is content produced from either of these three categories that is then organically shared online.

As communications practices continue to advance and diversify, these definitions will undoubtedly change. The discussion around this evolution helps us continue to grow as practitioners and make us better marketers.  Do you have a different view of earned, owned, paid and shared media? We would love to hear from you on one of our social channels below.

By Amy McEvoy – Head of Earned Media

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