Question: Our B2B has a very small marketing group and we keep hearing about “Earned” media being what we should focus our limited resources on. Can you explain paid vs. owned vs. earned media and provide any guidance on which we should focus on?
Let’s start this one off with a little story.
I’m a brand new B2B provier of “SuperWidgets.” As an organization we strive to up our marketing visits so we decide to go all in on digital marketing.
The first thing we do is register a domain, build a website, populate it with content and then create accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and every other Social Networking site we can think of. The content we put on all of these properties that we own would be referred to as “Owned Media”
After two hard weeks of pumping out new blog posts and tweeting our hearts about our “SuperWidgets,” Senior Management is disappointed to see that our efforts haven’t converted to millions of page views, thousands of new followers and likes on Social Media and at least 500 new customers. (Snark)
So they demand that we up the ante and immediately start driving more traffic to our site.
To do this, our B2B organization goes out and buys keywords on Google and partners with a digital advertising firm to find sites where we can put advertisements about our “SuperWidgets.” This effort would be reflective of our “Paid Media.”
Finally, after appeasing management by gaining a spike of “hopefully valuable readers” through our paid marketing we reconvene as a team and say…
How do we get our customers to be our advocates? We want our customers to share with their networks about how great our SuperWidgets” are because let’s face it. People don’t click on banner ads and paid ads like they did and as much as we are working on our “Owned” media, customers trust their peers more than they trust brands!
The media we are seeking here is what is called “Earned Media” and it is the most powerful and most difficult to obtain.
The Skinny on Earned Media
To generate Earned Media, brands need to work on executing their owned and paid very well to draw attention and convert their traditional mediums to brand advocates.
In the old PR days Earned Media was merely getting your stories placed in media sources rather than having to pay for advertising. The biggest shift here is the platforms have changed and with most brands having their ecosystem of owned media, it comes down to getting your network and word of mouth marketing to push your story into the eyes of more potential brand advocates and customers.
So to quickly sum up the original question. Earned Media is a very good goal for a marketing campaign, or an overall marketing strategy. To get to the point of successfully earning additional media I recommend focusing hard on your ecosystem of paid and owned to make sure you are getting exposed to the right audience and earning the trust and support of those that can help spread the word.