Using Earned Media To Amplify Your Brand Activation

min read
March 29, 2024
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Executive summary

  • Earned media is a form of content or material created about a brand that the brand itself did not create.
  • This form of media can be used to increase brand awareness, trust, and recall. 
  • Earned media can amplify a brand activation by boosting its reach and making a mark on wider audiences.
  • Brands can achieve earned media by making an impression through crafting compelling brand narratives, building relationships with media outlets, and creating strong content.

Brand activations are opportunities for brands to engage their audiences and build awareness about their services or products. Spreading the word about these activations through various media is crucial for maximizing their reach and impact.

Earned media is a unique form of outreach in which consumers or media outlets willingly create and share content about a brand, and it’s one piece of the puzzle in an effective media outreach strategy. Eighty-eight percent of consumers trust recommendations from someone they know, so although brands can advertise themselves, earned media is meaningful for establishing brand trust and awareness. 

This form of media can play a valuable role in brand activation by increasing the effectiveness of the event. Brands can take several steps to make a lasting impression on consumers and increase their chances of receiving earned media spots to amplify a brand activation.

What is earned media?

Earned media is shared content or material that is created about your brand that you have not bought or paid for yourself. These outreach opportunities are “earned” in the sense that brands must build a reputation for themselves that makes other parties interested in sharing their content. 

It’s important to distinguish earned media from other types of media—owned and paid. In owned media, a brand owns the media channel, like a company blog or social media channel. In paid media, brands pay for ad space across the internet. Meanwhile, earned media is unique in that brands cannot pay for, create, or facilitate it themselves.

Earned media is a type of media you can’t control or influence—it’s created by outside parties like media outlets or consumers. Brands can only earn these media spots by making an impression on others and creating content worth talking about.

Examples of earned media include:

  • A social media mention made by an event attendee or consumer
  • A news story that a brand did not pay for or request
  • An influencer making a video endorsing a product
  • A consumer leaving a positive Yelp or Google review about a business
  • Consumers sharing a social media post by a brand
  • A repeat customer talking about your brand or a product to a friend

Unlike other forms of media, the goal of earned media is not necessarily to send traffic to a website—the main goal is to build brand awareness, trust, and recall. By leveraging this properly, brands can expand their reach and plant themselves in consumers' memories.

How to leverage earned media for brand activation

Earned media in a brand activation can elevate the activation's impact even further by increasing the event’s reach, creating a positive experience, and making a lasting impression. Brands can use the following strategies to leverage earned media to maximize the impact of their brand activation.

Craft compelling brand narratives

Storytelling is a powerful tool for grasping and captivating audiences. When looking to reach new audiences through a brand activation, a strong story or narrative provides a connection point for new audiences.

Storytelling makes your brand more memorable by appealing to your consumers’ emotions, drawing your audience in, and making them want to learn more about your brand. A compelling brand narrative is a great option for creating content that resonates and encourages more emotional engagement in brand activation.

To create a compelling brand narrative:

  • Include information about your brand origin
  • Utilize empathy to connect with consumers on a personal level
  • Relate to the lived experiences of your target audience
  • Use multiple forms of media to communicate it, like music, text, and visuals

Once you have a strong brand narrative established, you should center it in your communications and activations by sharing it across multiple platforms and using it to connect with your consumers.

Build relationships with media outlets

Media outlets are the key to earned media—these are the resources that will share your content and spread your brand’s message. Brands should nurture relationships with these outlets consistently, not just when they need coverage.

Types of media outlets

Media outlets look different than they did years ago and are not limited to just journalists and local news stations. With the rise of social media and influencers highlighting the benefits of products, brands have several options for media outlets they can turn to.

Common outlets include:

  • News outlets – Local or online news outlets can be great tools for spreading the word about your brand, your services, and your products to new audiences.
  • Influencer marketing Influencer marketing utilizes influencers with large social media followings to spread the word about a brand or its products to consumers.
  • Consumers – Consumers are a media outlet, too. Brands must be able to provide positive experiences for consumers so that they’re more likely to want to speak and share on a brand’s behalf.

Developing relationships

Brands can find influencers using online platforms, reaching out directly on social media, or putting out calls for partnerships on social media channels. Brands may also consider hosting ambassador programs that encourage influencers to connect with the brand.

Meanwhile, brands can build relationships with journalists by sharing compelling press releases and pitches, reaching out on social media, or inviting journalists to brand activation events. They can create a mutually beneficial relationship by sharing journalists’ articles on social media and offering reliable sources for stories.

With this foundation established, brands can use the following strategies to build relationships with outlets and increase their earned media opportunities. 

  • Hosting brand activations and events that may attract media outlets
  • Sending products for influencers to demo for their audience, providing benefits for both sides
  • Hosting product giveaways through media outlets or influencers to encourage engagement
  • Maintaining a strong social media presence and interacting with others’ content on social media

Create shareable content

Compelling, interesting, and shareable content is more likely to resonate with consumers and other media outlets. Strong content will be easier to spread and give media outlets better reason and opportunity to share your content with their audiences. In one survey, 77% of marketers stated that creating share-worthy content was among their top priorities.

Creating shareable content requires intention and strategy to ensure that it’s relevant and useful for audiences to consume. Brands should create a variety of content, including social media posts, promotional videos, infographics, blog posts, and more.

Some ways to ensure that your content is shareable include:

  • Producing high-quality content that speaks to consumer needs or interests
  • Creating content around popular trends
  • Utilizing storytelling to captivate audiences effectively
  • Provide a clear sharing option or clickable “share” button on content
  • Using multiple forms of media to make the content more engaging

When developing content for brand activation, it’s important that this content encourages consumers to act or is tied closely to the activation event—this will give brands more potential to convert reach into action.

Utilize social media

With shareable content in place, brands should maximize their ability to spread this content by using multiple distribution channels. By using social media to spread their content and drive brand activation, they can increase brand awareness and the likelihood of others spreading their message.

Brands can take the following steps to use social media to foster earned outreach: 

  • Build a strong, consistent social media presence that makes it easy for consumers to find and engage with your brand
  • Stay up to date with new trends and hashtags
  • Share relevant media, even if the brand didn’t create it
  • Maintain a consistent language and style across channels and accounts
  • Engage with other brands or consumers in social media comments
  • Reply to mentions of your brand on social media
  • Showcase real-world events through recap videos or live streams

Measuring earned media results

Measuring results from earned media opportunities gives essential insight into the success of the initiatives and provides brands with the chance to learn and grow. Using the results from your earned media campaign can inform your brand how to adjust for any current or future brand activations. 

Brands can use the following ways to measure earned media results:

  • Tracking media coverage and mentions
  • Monitoring share counts of your content
  • Analyzing social media metrics like post likes, shares, and follows
  • Following mentions and hashtag uses across social media
  • Monitoring website traffic before and after the earned media outreach
  • Assessing overall brand sentiment in relation to earned media coverage

These metrics can inform you whether earned media helps move the needle for your brand activation or if there is room for improvement.

Drive brand activation with earned media

Utilizing earned media can boost the impact of your brand activations by providing an opportunity to reach wider audiences and build a strong reputation. However, to truly “earn” media coverage, brands must build a strategy that makes themselves worth talking about, including building relationships with media outlets, creating valuable content, and using communication channels effectively.

At PETERMAYER, we support brands in building brand activations and finding the right media coverage to back them up through media planning, media buying, public relations, and more. We maintain strong relationships with a wide range of media outlets and influencers to help build connections with brands that can benefit from their support. Most of all, we help brands unleash their inherent joy, empowering them to connect with customers through shared moments.

We’ll connect brands with the proper media outlets to spread the word about their brand activations. Contact us at PETERMAYER to learn more about how to amplify your brand activation using earned media.

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