In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, the categories “earned”, “paid”, and “owned” media have become fundamental pillars, each carrying its distinctive significance. However, in recent years, earned media has emerged as a beacon of trust and authenticity within communication departments. To truly grasp the essence of earned media, it is essential to understand what sets it apart from its counterparts, why it holds such immense value, and how companies can navigate its challenges effectively.
Earned media, true to its name, refers to media exposure that a company has not purchased or commissioned. It is the organic buzz that an entity garners through authentic means rather than monetary exchanges. When juxtaposed with paid and owned media, earned media provides a panoramic view of a company’s marketing landscape. It comprises comments, posts, or articles voluntarily created by customers, users, or ardent fans. This content serves not only as genuine and persuasive advertising, akin to the power of word-of-mouth marketing, but also as a valuable source of feedback for internal improvements. It unveils the public sentiment towards a brand, offering insights into what customers genuinely think, what they appreciate about new products, and what truly resonates with them in their daily lives.
Despite its evident advantages, earned media is not without its challenges. The content generated by customers and followers is inherently uncontrollable and unpredictable, often diverging from the meticulously crafted image a company strives to maintain. Conflicts arising from discrepancies between customer opinions and the company’s created image can potentially harm the reputation painstakingly built over the years.
One of the primary challenges with earned media lies in its measurement. Identifying the content is one aspect; qualitatively assessing it and assigning it precise value is another. Several models have been devised to tackle this issue. The Return on Target Influence Model, the Media Impact Model, and the Impressions Model offer varying approaches. The Return on Target Influence Model is widely used to determine the effectiveness of measures, while the Media Impact Model calculates return on investment (ROI). On the other hand, the Impressions Model calculates earned media value based on the number of impressions, emphasising the significance of a broad audience reach.
However, it is crucial to note that earned media cannot act as a complete substitute for paid or owned media. Instead, it is the synergy of these three components that results in a holistic and value-driven marketing strategy, maximising the impact of a company’s outreach efforts.
Tracking earned media, especially in traditional broadcast platforms, presents another significant challenge. Unlike digital content, which can be tracked through linking or tagging, traditional media tracking is considerably more complex. Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue. Sophisticated tools like Dart by eMedia Monitor aid in identifying and analysing earned media, ensuring that nothing valuable slips through the cracks.
Dart makes use of cutting-edge speech-to-text technology to provide real-time information from thousands of radio and TV stations worldwide. The broadcast channels are searched for the content of interest using queries set up by the user. As soon as a new result is being found, it can be accessed, edited, shared and analysed using the integrated platform features. Additionally, it can seamlessly be integrated into a given environment using API. The implementation of such a solution offers companies a comprehensive view of their earned media landscape, empowering them to make data-driven decisions and refine their marketing strategies.
Several companies have excelled in harnessing the power of earned media, leveraging it to bolster their brand image and foster customer loyalty. One such example is Nike, a behemoth in the sportswear industry. Through powerful and emotionally resonant ad campaigns, Nike has managed to create a community of loyal customers who willingly share their experiences on various platforms, generating a wealth of earned media for the brand. Another notable player is Starbucks, which has mastered the art of engaging with customers on social media. By encouraging user-generated content and actively participating in conversations, Starbucks has created a vibrant online community, leading to a substantial influx of earned media.
In the realm of technology, Apple stands as a paragon of earned media utilisation. The anticipation and speculation surrounding each Apple product launch generate immense buzz, with fans and tech enthusiasts speculating and discussing every detail. This organic, fan-driven conversation translates into invaluable earned media for the company. Similarly, Dove, with its campaigns promoting body positivity and self-love, has managed to strike a chord with its audience. These campaigns have sparked discussions, both online and offline, leading to a surge in earned media that has significantly contributed to Dove’s positive brand image.
Navigating the Earned Media Landscape
In the dynamic world of marketing, earned media represent authenticity, trust, and organic engagement. While challenges persist, the rewards are substantial for companies that navigate this landscape adeptly. Successful navigation of the earned media landscape requires a strategic approach that involves actively engaging with the audience, fostering a sense of community, and capitalising on the invaluable feedback provided by customers.
Firstly, companies need to actively listen to what their customers are saying. Some media outlets are true treasure troves of customer opinions and experiences. By actively monitoring these channels, companies can gain insights into customer sentiments, allowing them to respond promptly to both positive and negative mentions. Engaging with customers in a genuine and respectful manner not only resolves issues swiftly but also demonstrates a company’s commitment to customer satisfaction, thereby enhancing its reputation.
Encouraging user-generated content is another potent strategy. Companies can initiate campaigns, challenges, or contests that encourage customers to share their experiences with the brand or product. By doing so, businesses not only amplify their reach through customer networks but also generate authentic content that can be shared across various platforms. This user-generated content serves as a testament to the positive experiences of real customers, enhancing the brand’s credibility and trustworthiness.
Moreover, actively participating in relevant conversations within the industry or niche can significantly boost earned media mentions. By contributing valuable insights, sharing expert opinions, or even collaborating with influencers and thought leaders, companies can position themselves as authorities in their field. When individuals or organisations with a significant following endorse a brand, their endorsements often translate into earned media, reaching a wider audience and increasing brand visibility.
Additionally, brands can leverage the power of storytelling to create compelling narratives around their products or services. These stories, when genuine and relatable, have the potential to go viral, spreading across social media platforms like wildfire. Through storytelling, companies can evoke emotions, resonate with their audience, and create a lasting impression, leading to increased earned media mentions.
Furthermore, understanding the impact of earned media requires diligent measurement and analysis. Advanced analytics tools can help in tracking the reach, engagement, and sentiment of earned media mentions. By dissecting this data, companies can identify patterns, understand what works, and refine their strategies accordingly. These insights not only aid in evaluating the effectiveness of current efforts but also inform future campaigns, ensuring a continuous cycle of improvement and optimization.
In conclusion, the earned media landscape can be navigated successfully by fostering genuine relationships, encouraging user participation, actively engaging with the community, and embracing the power of storytelling. By doing so, companies can transform earned mentions into powerful assets that enhance brand reputation, amplify reach, and drive sustainable growth. In this age where authenticity and trust are paramount, mastering the art of earned media not only sets a company apart but also paves the way for enduring success in the ever-evolving digital landscape.