It’s not just about banner ads or curated social posts anymore; it’s about genuine conversations, authentic mentions, and the unsolicited buzz that brands generate. But that’s not all you want to tell your CEO.
Earned media, like organic endorsements or mentions from third parties, carries an intrinsic credibility that paid promotions can’t match. A feature article, a favorable review, or even a mention by a respected industry influencer can significantly boost a B2B company’s standing in its sector.
B2B businesses often operate within niche markets. Earned media, especially when amplified on platforms like LinkedIn or industry-specific forums, can extend a company’s reach to untapped audiences, including potential partners, stakeholders, and clients.
Yet understanding the true potential and leveraging the power of earned media remains an elusive concept for many business leaders. A whopping 70% of respondents in a Cision survey confessed that they would be more inclined to use earned media if its contributions could be directly tied back to financial impact and ROI. But relying on direct, easily measurable correlations disconnects brands from the long-term advantages of an earned media strategy—building trust and authority in your industry.
So if your CEO is…misunderstanding…the value of earned media, here’s what you should say.
1. Earned media is just that—earned.
When businesses pay for space to prompt their message, that’s advertising. It’s guaranteed but often met with skepticism by audiences who recognize its commercial intent.
Earned media is coverage you don’t pay for but genuinely earn due to its newsworthiness or genuine interest from a media outlet. It’s not guaranteed, making its acquisition even more valuable.
Why does this matter?
Earned media is seen as a trusted third-party endorsement. Nielsen’s research supports this, indicating that PR is about 90% more effective than advertising in swaying buyers.
While having industry connections can help get a foot in the door, it’s the genuine substance of the story that carries it across the threshold. You really have to earn it.
2. Relationships matter. And they don’t.
Having connections in the media, say with journalists from The Wall Street Journal or The Economist, can certainly get your pitch heard. But that’s where the guarantee ends. A journalist’s priority is to present valuable, timely stories to their readers, not to maintain professional relationships.
While many PR firms may boast about their high-profile connections, this shouldn’t be your sole selection criterion. Why? Because a strong relationship can’t save a weak pitch. Instead, organizations should value PR experts who bring creativity to their pitches and offer honest assessments of a story’s potential.
In short, while media relationships can open doors, it’s the quality and relevance of the pitch that ensures you walk through them. A creative, transparent approach is key to truly effective media outreach.
3. Tier 1 is a superficial goal.
While a New York Times cover story can offer a temporary spotlight, it’s not the ultimate barometer for sustained business success. Yes, it’s a significant achievement, but the ripple effect might be fleeting.
Real, tangible growth comes from targeted, regular exposure to the right audience. Consistency is vital. It’s not about chasing the occasional media splash but building a steady rhythm of visibility.
The consistent and relevant presence in media that speaks to your core audience will always outweigh the ephemeral buzz of a high-profile feature.
4. Amplification is the secret key.
A trending news piece might be published on a renowned website, but due to barriers like paywalls and firewalls, the majority of readers might actually encounter and engage with it on LinkedIn, where snippets, summaries, or discussions about the article are freely accessible.
LinkedIn’s networking environment encourages sharing and discussions, which in turn amplify the reach of the B2B content. This cascading effect of shares, comments, and discussions can make the news piece more visible on LinkedIn than on its primary publishing platform.
If your content is relevant and engaging, amplifying it on platforms where professionals gather and discuss can exponentially increase its visibility and impact.
5. Bylines are freakin’ awesome.
Bylines aren’t just signatures; they’re badges of expertise. Securing your name on a piece showcases your authority in your field and the trust placed in your insights by publications.
A year ago, we landed a client byline in the Harvard Business Review, and it is still driving business to them, even after they were acquired.
A byline in a respected publication isn’t just about visibility; it’s a lasting endorsement of your authority in the field.
6. Don’t slight “smaller” journalists.
Overlooking “smaller” journalists or niche publications can be a costly oversight. The dynamics of journalism have shifted. Many media contributors wear multiple hats, oscillating between freelancing for niche outlets and penning pieces for mainstream giants.
The freelancer who writes for a local digital magazine today might be crafting front-page stories for a national daily tomorrow. The lines between “small” and “big” media have blurred, and many journalists navigate through this spectrum fluidly.
In a world where stories are interconnected, and the audience is global, even articles from less-known publications can gain significant traction and visibility. Dismissing or undervaluing any media opportunity based on size or perceived prestige can be shortsighted.
Building respectful, genuine relationships with journalists across the board is crucial. Not only because it’s the right thing to do but because today’s under-the-radar writer could be tomorrow’s influential editor or reporter for a major media house. In the media game, every connection counts, every story has potential, and every journalist deserves respect.
7. Focus on WHY you want earned media.
Each company’s “why” will be unique, and it’s this purpose that should drive their media engagement strategy.
Is it to create awareness? Get a seat at the table for bigger deals? Credibility? Measure against what you want it to accomplish.
Chasing media mentions just to bolster a media kit or inflate numbers can quickly become a fruitless endeavor. Instead, every placement should be evaluated for its strategic value and alignment with the broader company mission.
8. It’s a long game.
It’s easy to forget that some of the most impactful strategies take time. Earned media, much like its counterparts in content marketing, B2B SEO, and B2B social media marketing, is no different. It’s not about the short bursts of speed but the sustained, strategic progression.
Building genuine, lasting relationships with journalists, influencers, and media outlets doesn’t happen overnight. It requires consistency, authenticity, and patience. Over time, as you prove your brand’s value and reliability, you’ll become a go-to source for these media professionals.
Similar to SEO, where the fruits of your labor might not be immediately visible, earned media placements often have a cumulative effect. An article here or a mention there begins to build a web of credibility and visibility for your brand over time.
9. Press Releases aren’t earned media.
Press releases are just one tactic. In the golden days of print media, press releases were the go-to strategy for businesses to announce anything from mergers and acquisitions to the launch of new products. They were essential, a primary source of information for journalists who were always on the hunt for the next big story.
The inundation of digital information means journalists are swamped with more press releases than they can handle. In fact, for many media professionals, press releases have become synonymous with white noise—just another email to skim over and discard.
Unless you are Coca-Cola and changing your bottle design or Apple with a new iPhone, most press releases are echo chambers. They make out-of-touch C-suite executives feel good, but they rarely result in actual coverage.
Most journalists don’t care about what’s happening with your company—unless and until you tie it into something that they can cover. For example, a tech-driven b2b company has a new CEO. By itself, it isn’t that exciting for most publications to cover.
But say you do a fireside chat on LinkedIn with the incoming CEO and an influencer in the space. That’s going to spark a lot more engagement and discussion. The takeaways from that conversation can then be used for blog posts, press releases, and more. The truth is that social media marketing and PR are more intertwined than ever.
Not sure if your press release is newsworthy? Plug it into SnoozeOrNews.com.
10. Earned media isn’t just a top-of-funnel activity.
Earned media should enable sales at every level of the funnel. Too often, companies overlook its potential beyond the initial engagement, but it impacts the entire sales funnel, from awareness to conversion
Equip your sales personnel to leverage media placements in their engagement strategies. This proactive approach can provide valuable context and content for conversations with potential clients.
Instead of the routine “just checking in” message, why not update your lead with a recent feature in [insert publication]? Or let them know about the “upcoming fireside chat with our CEO and [business influencer] discussing industry trends.”
Or what if you’ve got a lead with a query?
It’s possible your executive team has addressed it in a media piece. Sharing that adds credibility to your response: “Our VP shed light on this very topic here: [link]”.
Earned media isn’t just an introduction; it’s an ongoing conversation.
Encourage your business leaders to look beyond short-term metrics and embrace the profound, long-lasting impact of genuine conversations. And the next time you’re about to approach your CEO with a media strategy, let us be your guide. Reach out today.