Does Earned Media Really Work?

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As magazine and newspaper purse strings continue to tighten and requests for advertising become more and more frequent, it could be assumed that the space to create earned media would be on the wane. Yet pure and simple PR remains as strong as ever.

Whether you are talking about elevating brand campaigns or achieving simple product placement, PR is still the most cost effective of all promotional activities.

While paid spend is often dominated by the major companies, who can afford to outbid each other for the best ad spaces and sponsored features, organic PR is a fantastic way for new brands with smaller budgets to be noticed. This is especially the case in saturated markets such as health, fitness and beauty.

One reason for this is validity. Customers want to know whether what they are being told is genuine and honest. The simple addition of #AD or ‘Created by X for X’ can be off-putting and cause a sharp decrease in engagement.

By generating brand and product mentions across the media without these phrases, you are building brand awareness that is trusted and genuine.

While there are many ways PR is prominent in the current media landscape, arguably the greatest is though listings.

With most key publications digital offering now becoming their key source of income, website SEO has never been more important. This has caused a rise in the number of listing style features in national and consumer publications, with the likes of the Indy Best, Telegraph Recommends and Sun Selects now dominating the first page of a google search.

Each round-up offers the title the chance to increase their revenue through website visits and affiliate links. Whether it’s the best high heel shoe, or the most stylish sports bra that the reader is looking for, each title wants to be the first list you see.

With such competitiveness, comes many opportunities for PR’s, but also some challenges.

Often the choice of products featured in these pieces comes down to a combination of brand awareness, journalist preference and most importantly the PR’s relationships. With advertising spend strictly prohibited from these reviews, this is where the power of a PR really comes in. As much as the reviewer will look to be fully transparent with their review, yours and the brand’s relationship with the journalist can make or break performance. This is both in terms of the brand’s scoring and even making the list in the first place.

Putting aside the placement, where PR shines through is in reactive news. While an advertising space can take weeks to secure, a brand’s PR team can put them at the forefront of a conversation within minutes. Recent examples include Starbucks creation of the dragon drink following the Game of Thrones blunder or easyJet offering Britain’s youngest licensed pilot a mentorship with the company.

Although the reaction can be key, for brands where the connection is less clear, expert comment and creating a quickfire association with a news story is more important. This is where PRs really earn their money. In instances such as the 2018 London Marathon where the unexpected (heatwave) arises at the last turn, if you can provide near instantaneous expert comment from the brand, you are invaluable to the journalists. Each mention in a new publication increases both brand awareness and its authority within the sector.

Brandnation media team are available to take your next brief.