What is Earned Media? 3 Reasons Why It Matters

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A study done by Nielsen revealed that 92% of consumers say they trust earned media above all other forms of advertisements, including paid media. That’s a powerful statistic, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t understand what earned media is. 

Earned media refers to free publicity gained through news coverage, word-of-mouth, buzz, reviews, mentions, shares and other promotional efforts. It cannot be bought or owned. It is the local newspaper interviewing a real estate expert about the state of the housing market. It is the business owner sharing their battle with addiction on their road to success. It is the stylist at the salon down the street showing off back-to-school hairstyles on your favorite TV station.  

It also happens to be our specialty. In 2010, I started Media Minefield because I was frustrated with PR professionals and saw firsthand how badly businesses and nonprofits were handling earned media opportunities. 

Most business leaders understand the importance of paid media, or advertising, to reach their target audience and see quick results. But many have a hard time understanding how to secure earned media and how it can benefit their company and brand both short and long term.

Here are 3 reasons why earned media matters:

  1. Earned media builds trust. A Nielsen study found that earned media is the most trusted source of information, and it is the channel most likely to stimulate the consumer to action. 
  2. Earned media helps you gain credibility. Appearing in real news interviews as an expert in your industry builds your credibility with current and future customers. In fact, we have had several clients tell us that an earned media interview sealed the deal with a potential client.
  3. Earned media establishes your authority. One interview is great, but it is with consistent media appearances that you build awareness in your community. You become top of mind and the first person someone would turn to.

Some of the most well-known businesses are earned media pros, companies like Berkshire Hathaway run by Warren Buffet and Virgin Group led by Richard Branson. I have yet to come across a business that doesn’t have earned media opportunities that could help them reach their goals. Even if you aren’t a billion-dollar brand yet, ensure you are making earned media work for you.