Have you earned it?

Have you earned it

Have you earned it?

An almost forgotten area of communications is “earned media”. What is it? How can it work for you?

Some people talk about PR or Public Relations, but that is a broad discipline. “Earned media” refers to achieving “free publicity” in the media, be that print or online. The word “free” is perhaps a misnomer because you’ll obviously need to pay somebody (hopefully us) to help you to achieve that publicity.

So, “earned media” is where you get an article published in print or online media such as magazines, newspapers, etc., or have your story covered on radio or even television.

Why is this such great publicity?

Well, let’s say you placed an advert in a national newspaper and paid say R100 000 (excl. VAT). Your advert will tell the reader all the great things about your product or service. Would people believe you? After all, it’s your word about your own product!

If however articles appeared in say five newspapers, your value might be in the region of R500 000 (excl. VAT). For this, you might have paid a communications company say R30 000 – R40 000 (excl. VAT). You’re not only scoring from a ROI perspective, but also gaining credibility. Those articles are authored by credible journalists (not advertising copywriters) so it’s far more believable.

The difference of course is that when you pay for advertising, you are guaranteed the space. When going the “earned media” route, you are never guaranteed column space.

Amelia de Milander, Sherpa’s communications lead, gives pointers as to when you might achieve those precious “earned media” returns:

    • The press releases should never be a big product push otherwise the editor will scream “THEY CAN PAY FOR THIS!!!”
    • Respect the editor’s integrity. Your articles should be newsworthy and of interest to the public. For example, telling people that your burglar bars are the best won’t cut it. However, if the CEO of Burglar Bar (Pty) Ltd is quoted on crime statistics and ways to reduce house breaks, they are seen as credible experts in the field.

“.when you’re building brand credibility, use ‘earned
media’.established brands
need media advertising to
remind the market who’s

  • It’s not about a once off dumping of a press release to the media. The communications company needs to build trust and a relationship with the journalists and editors.
  • It differs from publication to publication, but sometimes showing loyalty to the media by advertising when appropriate, could help you.

Should I stop advertising and just go the “earned media” route?
“No. It is not precise, but a rule of thumb is that when you’re building brand credibility, use ‘earned media’. When you’re an established brand, you might need paid media advertising to remind the market who the boss is. But even for the big, established brands, ‘earned media’ solidifies their market positions.

“Our philosophy at Sherpa is that everything is integrated and you’ve got to seek those linkages. For example, if you get an article published in main online media, it’s going to help with your search engine rankings.”

Contact us to find out if “earned media” can work for you.

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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