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Hello, Summerville! As chilly weather descends upon the Lowcountry, we sure do hope you’re keeping warm! The upcoming holidays present copious branding and marketing opportunities and, as always, Creative Consulting is here to make sure you take advantage of every opportunity available. We’re happy to have you here on the Creative Consulting blog, where you’ll find the most relevant information about marketing your small business in the digital sphere. From building an outstanding webpage to graphic design to managing your social media to optimizing SEO to building a cohesive brand identity—Creative Consulting covers everything you could possibly need to know to take your business to the next level.
Recently, we took a brief look into the future (as much as we were able) to see what’s coming next in terms of marketing trends. While 2021 has seen significant changes to how marketers strategize and connect to consumers, 2022 is shaping up to be full of even more changes, with the rise of hybrid events, the micronization of influencer marketing, and the disappearance of 3rd party cookies. To see how next year’s marketing trends will affect you and how you can plan ahead, definitely check out our last article. While trends may come and go, the basics of branding remain the same. Do you know how to tell a compelling story? Storytelling is the essential component to reaching your audience. Only, how do narrative elements such as character, dialogue, and theme translate over into branding? How do you capture your audience's attention right off the bat? Our article, ‘Using Storytelling to Enhance Brand Message,’ covers everything you need to know about developing a well-told brand narrative. We’re constantly sharing relevant, deeply researched articles about branding and marketing. That’s why we hope you’ll give our last few articles a read!
Today, we’re discussing the concept of “free PR.” Nothing’s free, you might be thinking, and you’d be right. However, earned media is significantly cheaper than paid media. What is earned media? We’ll discuss how this type of marketing works, it’s effect on consumers, as well as how you can earn yourself some “free promotion.” If you’re interested in learning more, read on!
The difference between paid and earned media?
Paid media is just what you’d think based on the name. It consists of marketing efforts which are paid for by a brand or company. Examples of paid media include pay-per-click advertisements (such as Google Ads), social media advertisements (such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn ads), print advertisements (such as magazine and newspaper ads), billboards and television commercials. Simply put, paid media relies on the exposure of a platform and the exchange of currency for the utilization of such exposure.
On the other hand, earned media does not rely on the exchange of currency. Earned media relies on the organic distribution of information about a company by other social entities. For example, if a newspaper decided to write an article about your business, this would be considered earned media. If you paid for a newspaper to write about your business, this would be considered earned media. Earned media does not include advertisements, influencer campaigns, or any other marketing ploy which relies upon paid endorsement. Since no money is exchanged, there’s a perception this type of exposure is “earned,” as in a company has outperformed expectations to garner the esteem of their industry and consumer base. This can, however, also work the other way around, as in a company has underperformed enough to warrant disdain from their industry and consumer base.
Every time a customer tweets about their amazing brunch at a new restaurant downtown, writes a review on Yelp, or recommends a service or product to their friend, this is earned media. Television spots, paid articles, and blogs written and published by the company in question are not earned media. In addition to paid and earned media, there’s also owned media, which we can discuss in a later article. In order to make the distinction between earned media and it’s counterparts, here are a few more real world examples!
While Oreo, “America’s Favorite Cookie” paid millions for a TV spot during Super Bowl XLVII, their mid-game tweet made a much larger splash. When lights went out due to a power outage, the company acted quickly to publish a tweet which read: “You can still dunk in the dark.” This tweet went viral. After being retweeted by thousands, major news outlets such as HuffPost and Wired published articles (the important part: of their own volition) declaring Oreo was the true winner of the Super Bowl.
You can never guess what the internet will make viral, but you can surely capitalize on sudden public interest. That’s exactly what Ocean Spray did when a video of Nathan Apodaca drinking their cranberry juice while skateboarding and listening to ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac went uber-viral. They gifted Apodaca a brand-new truck, which was covered by The New York Times, and created their own video inspired from Apodaca, which was covered by The Boston Globe.
In 2020, in honor of Halloween, Home Depot fabricated a huge, anatomically correct, 12-foot skeleton. This skeleton went for $300 and quickly sold out as a result of going viral. Reductress published a satirical article called, “How to Stay Humble Even Though You Own the 12-Foot Home Depot Skeleton.” Home Depot was quoted in an Insider article about the unexpected surge in popularity as saying, this was “the strongest [Halloween] we’ve ever had.”
Is earned media effective?
As evidenced by the examples mentioned above, earned media can be incredibly effective. While virality can play a large role in the success of earned media, virality isn’t an essential component of earned media. Earned media, by nature, is organic. It’s compelled by a genuine love, or hate, of a business, brand, product, or service. Human beings, by nature, are influenced by social customs. Most humans value the opinions of others and will base their personal opinions on the opinions of those they love and trust. For this reason, influencer marketing is the strongest form of marketing available. Likewise, for this reason, earned media holds greater weight than paid media.
According to research done by HubSpot, as many as 57% of U.S. citizens trust the opinions of their friends and family about new products more than any other information source. At least one-third of buyers use Google searches to determine their opinions about new products. When making the decision to buy, or not to buy, consumers rely on public opinion, not ads, to make their final choice. Earned media, which relies on a business’s name being shared, mentioned, reviewed, and reposted, also cultivates a greater online presence for a brand. Highly sought-after elements of industry dominance, such as credibility and authority, can be most easily built by earned media.
Now that you’re aware how effective earned media can be, the next step is to understand how to cultivate earned media.
How can I “earn” earned media?
Earned media can be a bit tricky, since it’s not as straightforward as paid media. One type of earned media can be derivative of owned media. For example, blog posts published on your business’s website provide opportunities for driving organic traffic, obtaining reshares, and establishing credibility. Higher levels of engagement with high-quality content equate to higher rates of earned media. Having a content strategy which utilizes earned media and a marketing team which understands how to take advantage of earned media is essential. Think about the examples of earned media mentioned previously. All of those companies took advantage of an existing opportunity and doubled-down on their exposure by thinking quickly and responding in kind.
Are there any drawbacks to earned media?
Absolutely. Unlike paid media, you cannot ensure earned media will always be positive. For example, while Spirit Airlines garners plenty of earned media in the form of videos and mentions, many of these instances are commenting on the unreliability or lack of safety consumers associate with the brand. “All publicity is good publicity,” right? Not exactly. To ensure earned media is beneficial, you’ll want to be particular about which opportunities your brand responds to and ensure your social presence is spotless.
We hope after this mini-lesson you’ll take advantage of earned media. While paid media is an important aspect of any marketing strategy, earned media is a potent addition to any marketing arsenal. For more marketing and branding expertise, the Creative Consulting blog has you covered. Tune back in for our future articles! We’ll discuss co-branding, affinity, and cause marketing. You won’t want to miss it! Feel free to give us a call and set up a consultation. We are dedicated to helping you determine which marketing strategies will work best for your business or brand. Until next time, thank you for reading!