Four Tips for Building Your Earned Media Strategy

As a PR practitioner, I’ve seen the media landscape change dramatically over the past two decades. Newsrooms are shrinking and the viewership/readership of traditional media outlets continues to decline. Yet the thrill of pitching and finally securing an earned media story for a client remains powerful. So how do you make sure your priority internal and external audiences actually see these incredible earned media stories? Integration is the key to success. Here are four quick tips:

1. Categorize Your Earned Media

Categorizing media stories into three levels can help you determine when and how to leverage the various tools in your toolbox to further promote a valuable earned media story. Above all, you want to put maximum effort behind the stories that help your organization meet its priorities and business goals most effectively. A “good” story may mention your organization but not highlight a strategic focus or expert. A “better” story may highlight an expert or include key messages and a “best” story may feature an expert, include messaging and your call to action. By reviewing earned media hits and assigning them these relevant categories, you can best determine how to amplify media coverage through your marketing communication (marcomm) channels.

2. Leverage Internal Resources

Internal communication team has their own set of tools. By utilizing owned communication channels, you can further the reach of a worthy earned media hit. Make a list of these communication channels, which may include your website and press room, blog, monthly newsletters (internal and external), annual report and organic and paid social media. In addition, think through your partners and how they could share the story on their internal communication channels. By sharing earned media coverage within your own channels, even a seemingly small-scale media mention can become an impactful newsmaker.

3. Build Success Metrics

Metrics for earned media matter because they quantify the impact, effectiveness and reach of your communication efforts, as well as guide strategic decisions and demonstrate the value of earned media in achieving your business goals. Here are a few recommended success metrics for shared earned media stories—whether amplified organically or through paid efforts:

  • Organic (newsletters, email, website, blogs, etc.): Track link clicks by creating a unique tracking link for each story to see whether your efforts garner greater reach. These metrics can inform your future efforts.
  • Paid (social/digital media): Typically, cost-per-click (CPC) link clicks and click-through-rate (CTR) will be the main metrics. These could shift depending on a specific story’s objectives.

4. Activate Your Wonder Twin Powers

If your marcomm teams are in different divisions or don’t meet regularly, it is important to keep everyone in the loop. Establishing regular cross-functional meetings helps foster an open and collaborative culture, facilitating information exchange. It seems simple but it brings to mind this quote by George Bernard Shaw, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Additionally, having clearly defined roles, responsibilities and communication protocols in place will help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that both media and internal teams work in tandem towards common objectives for leveraging earned media. This integrated approach will enhance overall messaging consistency and maximize resource utilization. Remember, the main goal is to amplify the reach and impact of an earned media piece by strategically integrating it into your communication channels to enhance your organization’s brand visibility and credibility.

Amy Moynihan is a vice president at GFM|CenterTable and leads the agency’s Communications Practice including media relations, purpose & social impact, and internal communications. This article was also supported by Adrienne Schafer, who is a senior director at GFM|CenterTable and helps brands bridge their message to the right audiences through digital communications and marketing.