Earned Media

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Earned media is a public relations term for publicity gained through news coverage, third-party endorsement, or word of mouth. In simple terms, earned media is any form of marketing effort that don't involve an initial outlay from a business. Although it may come as a surprise to many, 80% percent of B2B marketers spend less than 5% on paid advertising, and only half have a formal process in place for measuring the effectiveness of their content. Earned media, also called made content or even free media, describes content written about your business by third parties and published on channels that you don't own, like posts on social media. More clearly put: 97% don't have a good handle on what worked well and why. You might be thinking that media coverage falls as underpaid media, which is valid for certain types. Advertising spots or sponsored articles are media coverage that your brand pays for and controls. The media coverage counts as earned media is when you are mentioned or written about without paying anyone. The lines can blur between earned and owned media or paid and owned media, as well. For better understanding, you can search for earned media examples. Free media coverage such as news stories or opinion pieces could also work.

The importance of earned media

Earned media is the most effective way to build brand awareness and generate leads. According to new research by the CMO Council, it's more of an ROI than any other marketing technique for professional services firms.

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Collaboration practices that you follow

The two main ways we work with influencers are either through our 'Speak With A Leader' program or through one-on-one activities around specific events. Occasionally, we may approach an industry expert for a 'think piece,' but it's always unpaid and without any obligation on their part to publish or share the thoughts they give us. In return, we'll promote them as a leader in their field and their company, which can be beneficial to them.

Find the right influencers.

We primarily identify influencers through our network of contacts. However, we also use tools like Klout and Traackr to understand who's essential in the field. For example, for the 'Speak With A Leader' program, we've created our algorithm that determines whether or not someone is likely to fit with our audience based on specific criteria (for example, someone who frequently writes about social media channels will be paired with a marketer). But, again, this list isn't used for anything other than selecting speakers.

Activities carried out by a collaboration.

There are two main types of activities that I would categorize as 'collaboration':

1. Speaking with industry influencers

2. Promoting their content to our audience

1) I think this is the most evident form of collaboration - we invite someone to speak at an event or on a webinar about their area of expertise, and they're free to promote that fact (and usually do). So it's very much like an interview.

2) This type is less obvious but still effective, especially in B2B services. For example, we may ask an expert for their thoughts on a specific topic; whether they've written about it before or not, they can use these comments in any way they wish (for example: posting them on LinkedIn). In addition, there are often multiple ways of interpreting the same data or research, so it can be a great way of generating coverage for new pieces.

The benefits of collaboration

For B2B marketers, in particular, it's an effective way to get your content seen by more people without investing any money (because you're not paying for exposure like you would with traditional PPC). It works out well when there's already some chemistry between us and the influencer; we've taken part in each other's webinars, mentioned each other on Twitter, and generally shown our support in various ways. This doesn't mean that we'll automatically promote every piece of content they write: we still want to make sure that they're relevant to our audience and provide real value. We'll pass on the content and promote something else if they don't.

David Drobis is the Director of Marketing at The CMO Council with extensive knowledge in building relationships between business leaders and marketers through strategy, research, education, and mentoring. David has over 20 years of marketing experience working across various industries, including software, retail, manufacturing, and professional services. He joined CMO Council in 2012 after serving as chief marketing officer for two small- to medium-sized technology companies. You can follow him on Twitter or read his blog.

Paid, owned, and earned media.

Owned media is all the ways you communicate with your customers through your website, social media profiles, and email list. It's also non-paid content that other websites (e.g. industry blogs) cover about you or quote from you.

Paid media is any advertising you run across the web to target your desired audience (Facebook ads, paid search).

Earned media is when a third party talks positively or negatively about your brand in their online presence (blog posts, social media posts, tweets, news articles). Ideally, they'll link back to some part of your owned/paid media so their readers can easily find more information if they're interested!

Measure our ROI on collaboration

Since it's not possible to track every single interaction, we tend to rely on anecdotal evidence. For example, if influencer posts about our webinar on Facebook and Twitter, the posts are usually very well received by the community (lots of likes/shares). We'll also get a spike in registrations for that specific session. If someone writes about our research or gives us a quote, I'll make sure to thank them via email and see how it's being used. Sometimes they may share these messages too, which builds rapport between us. There are many different ways this can be measured depending on your audience; you have to get creative!

Excellent examples of collaboration

One great place to start is with people who are already ambassadors. These are the top influencers in your industry, so you should be collaborating with them more than anyone else! They have an extensive network of contacts, so if they mention you on Twitter or their blog, it gets seen by hundreds or thousands of people. You can find these people through tools like BuzzSumo and Followerwonk.

Terrible examples

Avoid situations where you're sharing content that's not relevant to your audience to receive coverage - this comes across as spammy quickly. It doesn't mean that every piece of content has to be written for your target market but make sure there's enough information about your business/category to make sense.

Ways to make more relationships

This is probably the biggest challenge in PR at the moment. It's hard enough finding relevant people to reach out to without adding timezones or language barriers into the mix! I'd suggest starting with tools like BuzzSumo and Followerwonk that can help you find people who've shared similar content before. So how do you protect the brand during collaboration?

Before engaging in any activity, research their online presence thoroughly - if they don't have one, you probably don't want to work with them! Read their recent articles/tweets/posts, look at who they follow and follow them. If there are any red flags, it's probably best to cut your losses rather than damage your brand for a few pieces of coverage.

Earned media

When third parties talk about your brand online, whether it's positive or negative, ideally, they'll link to some part of your owned/paid media so that they can drive more traffic back to you!

Paid media

Any advertising that you run across the web to target your desired audience (Facebook ads, paid search).

Owned media

All the ways you communicate with your customers are through your website, social media profiles, and email list. It's also non-paid content that other websites cover about you or quote from you.

Measure our ROI on collaboration

We tend to rely on anecdotal evidence for this one - if influencer posts about our webinar on Facebook and Twitter, the posts are usually very well received by the community (lots of likes/shares). We'll also get a spike in registrations for that specific session. If someone writes about our research or gives us a quote, I'll make sure to thank them via email and see how it's being used. Sometimes they may share these messages too, which builds rapport between us. Of course, there are many different ways this can be measured depending on your audience; you have to get creative!

Ways to measure our ROI on collaboration

We tend to rely on anecdotal evidence for this one – if influencer posts about our webinar on Facebook and Twitter, the posts are usually very well received by the community (lots of likes/shares). We'll also get a spike in registrations for that specific session. If someone writes about our research or gives us a quote, I'll make sure to thank them via email and see how it's being used. Sometimes they may share these messages too, which builds rapport between us. Of course, there are many different ways this can be measured depending on your audience; you have to get creative!

Types of people to collaborate with

I try not to work with people who don't represent my brand well (e.g. if they're super controversial), but for the most part, anyone willing to talk about you is good enough! We usually start by reaching out directly on Twitter or LinkedIn and then ask if there's anything we could provide more information on if they're interested in learning more.

The criteria for who we collaborate with

I try not to work with people who don't represent my brand well (e.g. if they're super controversial), but for the most part, anyone willing to talk about you is good enough! We usually start by reaching out directly on Twitter or LinkedIn and then ask if there's anything we could provide more information on if they're interested in learning more.

Paying influencers

Not necessarily; it depends on their rates and how much you can afford, but many will agree to your requests even if it doesn't involve any form of payment! If you've mentioned them before (in a blog post.), that helps build trust too.

The best way to find influencers

I typically start by looking at their most recent posts, then check out who they're following and who follows them. Google is also an excellent tool for finding influencers - see who has talked about your brand before and reach out!

Collaborate with your current customers

We've found that this is one of the most effective ways to build awareness – if you can get existing customers to talk about you, it often leads directly back to increased sales. We primarily use Twitter and LinkedIn (post-classic 'customer testimonial') and encourage them to share with their networks (personal/company). Some marketing automation companies even social shares as part of the email!

Collaboration with your customers

We've found that this is one of the most effective ways to build awareness – if you can get existing customers to talk about you, it often leads directly back to increased sales. We primarily use Twitter and LinkedIn (post-classic 'customer testimonial') and encourage them to share with their networks (personal/company). Some marketing automation companies even social shares as part of the email!

Benefits of collaborating with influencers

It sends a message that you're willing to work with others who have different opinions than yours - show people how much potential there is in working together. It also gives your brand a sense of credibility - being associated with other vital figures shows that you're a leader in the industry.

The strategy helps our business

I can't think of any specific examples. Still, I'm pretty confident that being mentioned on respected sites/social media has helped us directly with signups and getting people to spend more time on our site. In general, when someone speaks highly of you, there's a good chance others will too!

Collaborating with influencers is crucial when it comes to garnering online visibility. It also shows your target market that you're a thought leader in the industry, and they should continue following your social feeds for learning material and advice! Collaboration means sharing ideas, working together towards a common goal, etc., so when you're collaborating with influencers in your target market, you're doing both of those things!

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