What is earned media and how to obtain?




qué es earned media

The term “earned media” refers to any type of unpaid media coverage. And more exactly, what is earned media? A good example is when a news website talks about an organization or conducts a product analysis.

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What is earned media?

It is crucial to emphasize that earned media refers to unpaid publicity. This means that the media coverage is not obtained through a financial transaction.

This concept encompasses anything directed to an audience by a media outlet. The media outlet could be a news website, radio station, television channel, social media account, video channel, blog, podcast, and many others.

In essence, whenever a media outlet talks about us to an audience without any payment on our part, we are answering the question: what is earned media?

This is not a new concept, as traditional marketing has always placed great importance on media coverage. However, what is new is the term itself, as it has been historically referred to as ‘coverage,’ ‘publicity,’ or ‘impact.’

Nowadays, it is an essential concept in any digital marketing strategy, and many companies have dedicated departments referred to as earned media departments.

Simply put, language evolves over time 😊

Learn more about what Earned Media Value is and how to calculate.

Difference with ‘owned media’ and ‘paid media’

If you have read the previous section carefully, you probably already know what the difference is.

what is earned media and differences with owned media and paid media

Earned media, as the name implies, is something we earn through hard work. It’s not something we pay for and get instantly; rather, it’s like the fruits of our labor.

Owned media, on the other hand, refers to media coverage that we control: our website, our social media, our newsletter, and others.

Paid media, obviously, is the dissemination we obtain after making a payment. By law, it must be marked as advertising.

Therefore, you will realize that earned media coverage is the most difficult to obtain: we neither control it nor can we pay for it. It is completely organic coverage.

But perhaps you’re wondering, “What if I bribe a journalist to publish an article about me and not mark it as advertising?”

In this case, I recommend reading my article where I explain why buying links or backlinks is not legal (in Spanish). While it focuses on the topic of paid links, it contains several references to irregular advertising.

What is the purpose of earned media?

I want to emphasize again that earned media refers to unpaid content. In other words, we are directly part of the editorial content of the media or individual channel.

This is fantastic because who likes ads? Nobody!

So, by achieving earned media, we become part of the content that people do consume. This helps improve brand awareness, meaning that society becomes aware that our brand exists.

And you know that when it comes to buying, we tend to do it from a place we’ve at least heard of.

But besides that, being talked about improves our presence in the market. We become a leading player in our industry, whatever it may be. The ultimate goal is to become ‘top of mind.’ This means that when a person thinks about a specific industry, our brand is among the list of top players in that industry.

top of mind

This, without a doubt, allows us to influence people’s purchasing decisions. If they remember us, when they go to buy something, they will at least consider looking at our products and services.

And I’ve saved the best use for last: backlinks.

If, in addition to getting the media to talk about us organically, we manage to have a link to our website included in the content, we will have hit the bullseye. You probably already know that search engines like Google highly value backlinks from external pages. These links help improve SEO ranking.

And that’s achieved through earned media.

How to obtain earned media?

Alright, we’ve reached the crucial point. You already understand what earned media is, and now you want to achieve it for your website. But how do you do that?

I’ll tell you a key point that I haven’t seen on any other website talking about earned media.

Here it is, in just one word: usefulness.

If we want the media to talk about us, it is simply imperative that we provide value to the media that mentions us. No one is going to mention us just because; they will do it because we are useful in one way or another.

And for that, we have to ask ourselves, for example: What does a news website want?

And anyone might think: Well, a news website wants news.

Well, no! A news website wants traffic and interactions.

That’s why, if we want to grab the attention of the media, we have to align ourselves with this premise. Let’s help them get traffic and interaction through content in which we are experts.

If we are experts in trains, let’s conduct a study and ranking of the worst-maintained railway lines in the country. I assure you that local newspapers from the regions that rank first and last will be thrilled to talk about it.

If we specialize in the automotive industry, we can interview a celebrity for our website and try to get them to make controversial statements. Sports pages are always looking for sensationalism and will cite our page as a source. Don’t you believe me? Look at this:

example what is earned media

If you want to better understand what earned media is, take a look at how apablo.com’s press office works. There are several examples there, many of them with links and all.

Methods to obtain earned media

Let’s be useful to others! That’s the most important thing to obtain earned media.

To do this, once we conduct a study, we can send a press release to the media. However, do yourself a favor and avoid using platforms for automatic distribution and publication of press releases.

Instead, write a press release and manually send it to the media. You can also directly call newsrooms or mention journalists on social media.

If you sell products, offer them! Give away samples and invite journalists and influencers to conduct reviews!

There are a thousand things we can do to get other media and channels to mention us; the limit is our creativity!

As I’ve been telling you, there are many ways to obtain earned media. Here, I’ll give you the most common ideas:

  • Conduct a study, publish it on your website, and send a press release to the media.
  • Suggest stories in which your organization specializes and present yourself as a spokesperson for an interview.
  • Send trial products to newsrooms and influencers and suggest that they conduct a review.
  • Contact local media outlets, but always propose a topic.
  • Participate in fairs, events, conferences, and if you see a journalist or a television camera, introduce yourself.
  • Create outstanding content that everyone wants to share on social media.

As you can see, many of these methods require some boldness. But you know, no pain, no gain.

You wanted to know what earned media is, and I’m just telling you.

Go for it!

Look, I also do it for apablo.com, in this case on El Confidencial.

What is earned media? The risks

Trying to obtain earned media also comes with its risks. Generally, the risk is not too high, but it must be taken into account.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, earned media is unpaid coverage. And I explained that it involves appearing as content.

When we appear as editorial content, like news, there is a possibility that negative things might be said about us. If we want to guarantee good press, we need to invest in advertising (paid media).

For example, an opinion article in a newspaper could criticize us for any reason.

Or if we offer a product for review by an influencer, we expose ourselves to the possibility of them telling their audience that it’s not good.

So, what do we do then?

Nothing, we can’t do anything. That’s where freedom of the press and freedom of expression come into play. In principle, we shouldn’t buy people’s opinions.

Anyway, as I mentioned, the risk is low. Sometimes, even negative press can be beneficial.


To conclude this article on what earned media is and how to obtain it, I’d like to mention a few things.

Firstly, this is neither new nor a recent trend. This has been done for years by communication agencies like apablo.com.

The difference lies in the fact that, while in the past the work appeared in print magazines, now the results are digital pieces. But it’s not new at all, really.

The aspect of coverage and publicity, especially in the press, is one of the most important aspects of any marketing strategy. Absolutely all companies with growth expectations and a desire to dominate the market invest some budget in communication.

I want to remind you of the best advice no one will give you about media coverage: remember to be useful to the media in question. No one will mention you just because; they will only mention you if you are somehow useful.

Lastly, I want to reiterate that when you ask yourself what earned media is, remember that it’s about unpaid appearances. The moment you pay, it ceases to be ‘earned’ and becomes ‘paid’.

I hope this article has been helpful, and I encourage you to give it a try. If you want my help, write to me at hola@apablo.com, and we’ll talk about it.

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