Estimated read time: 2 minutes

Earned media is a term used by marketers and communications professionals that refers to news articles, radio and TV broadcasts that were produced by the journalists and that marketers paid no money for.

In other words: Those outlets included a story that marketers and communicators wanted to get published and may have even paid for to get shared with specific audiences.

Some marketers over the years have kept track of how much earned media they received in dollars. Usually, they used the cost of what advertising in the specific medium would cost and multiply it by a certain number. The multiplication, in part, happens because audiences value coverage by journalists more than an ad on a similar topic. Marketers try to capture this value in dollars – because often that’s how their bosses ask to see proof of return on investment.

Media coverage often happens when marketers (people) have relationships with journalists (also people). When professionals  establish themselves as authentic experts who are willing and available to share their expertise, journalists are often willing to include them in their stories.

To earn media – so to speak- make sure you:

  • are authentic.
  • answer the questions asked by journalists.
  • respond to requests for interviews immediately. That means minutes – not hours.
  • know your subject matter.
  • are helpful. If a reporter is looking for other sources, try to to help him or her.
  • don’t ramble on. Answer the question and stop talking.
  • say the soundbite you really would like to be included last. Even if you’ve said it before, say it again, just to make sure it’s top of mind for the journalist.

Definitely do not:

  • ignore a reporter’s question completely and answer the question you want to answer. Sometimes you can get away with this if your question is close to the reporter.
  • forget that interviews don’t end when reporters say they do. Even as you are walking back to the car next to the reporter you can still be quoted.

Earned media is probably not the best term used by marketing pros for getting media coverage, but nonetheless, traditional media outlets continue to have large audiences – even in 2014. Their amplifications of stories from organizations, nonprofits and others can help those involved share their stories with a wider audience and those stories can make a larger impact.

Keep in mind that not everyone in a mass medium audience is extremely interested in your topic, but due to the size of the audience, chances are that some might be.

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