What’s that they say about 15 minutes of fame? We’re going to be really honest about coverage; it’s great, but it doesn’t last forever. Even that flagship story on the cover of the FT has a lifespan. So while it can do you a hell of a lot of good, it can always do more for your earned media strategy.
We ran a fantastic event recently at which we were delighted to have real-life interactions with our clients (it was WONDERFUL). We covered the following topic at the event, and it got a great reception, so we thought we’d share it here.
What we’re about to write isn’t going to get me in the annals of marketing history, because frankly if the subject is interesting enough that you’re reading this post, you already know the answer. The bigger question is whether you actually are / your brand enables you to follow that earned media strategy. We’d love to hear if you’ve got it nailed, or if you’re trying to implement these approaches but are experiencing any resistance.
Firstly, we think most of us recognise that no audience wants to be on the receiving end of megaphone marketing, where the brand shouts at you and expects you to listen because its earned media strategy is more important than anyone else’s. We’ve entered a period where, even in the B2B landscape, people expect earned media to be alert to sensitivities and to respect the diversity of thought.
This is really important when thinking about the impact of media coverage because you can never assume you’ve been seen. If your comms strategy is built on the assumption people are making the effort to hear your voice, you miss the reality that on virtually every subject, there are many other voices shouting just as loud.
In terms of third-party endorsement – against the confusing backdrop of diversified influencers and ambiguity in paid content – earned media has never been more powerful. So, how do you avoid that awesome piece of coverage getting buried?
1. Please, Get Rid of the Silos!
During the debate at our recent event it was clear that despite all the best intentions, it’s still tough to operate as a unified marketing team. PR shouldn’t be an island but nor should sales or any other facet of the earned media process. Moving audiences through ‘the funnel’ is far more multifaceted than ever before.
Best practice in optimising coverage impact in a high volume, high pace digital landscape is not complex – and nor are the techniques new. But it seems there is still a big gap between the principles of how to create an earned media strategy and what most brands actually do.
2. Support Early Sales Funnel Engagement
When it comes to organic and paid promotion of media coverage on the social platforms most relevant to the audiences, we’re seeing a huge surge of clients citing their sales teams’ interactions on LinkedIn as more valuable than traditional earned media strategy.
As with most earned media, native advertising is great for early state funnel engagement due to its inherent ability to be served based on contextual targeting. It eliminates some of the ‘PR is too broad a brush stroke’ argument and turns coverage into a digital, analytics-driven tool. In addition, as the format can deliver a more interactive, multi-media experience, user engagement is often higher than in other channels of earned media.
3. Consider Mid-Funnel Needs
Go old school! The reinvention of the newsletter offers an excellent platform for the sharing of media coverage. Listen to how your audiences are consuming this information and make earned media coverage a part of it.
Coverage can act with the same impact as a customer reference for sales teams. Many organisations have a customer reference matrix for reps to use in sales decks but very few activate media coverage in the same way. Find out from sales how and where they use media coverage as third-party validation and make it available. For example, while product news isn’t always the easiest to land in PR terms, it’s rocket fuel for sales.
4. Bolster Internal Comms
Internal comms is not just a marketing priority but a strategic focus for the business as a whole. Earned media coverage can help validate the corporate agenda and reinforce the shared direction of the organisation.
One of the overpoweringly important trends of recent years is the value of the voice of the employee. We repeatedly hear how much more memorable an individual reflection on a deal or product is than the ‘official line’ (and don’t forget you can still pay to amplify those voices).
So, as we promised, best practices you probably already know but cannot always craft a perfect earned media strategy. Let’s work to make more of this stuff happen. It will pay dividends.