Another post on our PR Insights blog pointed out that article publishing – earned media – is still one of the most effective strategies B2B marketers have to spread the news about their products and services. They are especially effective for consulting firms which to show their expertise on a topic or challenge.
As we are using the term here, earned media means publishing articles in major trade publications for free. In other words, we have earned the right to be in that trade publication by writing high-quality content, thus the name.
The editor will likely allow some promotional material in the article, but only if it is subtle and tactfully handled.
The power of Earned Media is Credibility
The reader is learning something about a product or service that might address a challenge they grapple with. The content is validated by being published in a quality trade publication, giving it trustworthiness that is not possible in an advertisement or a paid placement.
This is unlike paid media, often referred to as branded articles or native advertising. Although they invariably have the same look and feel of a published article, branded articles are paid placements and legally must note this fact somewhere on the page.
Some B2B marketers report these articles can be very powerful. Online, they often include links to products, so B2B organizations can tell precisely what links in the branded article are clicked on. This can prove invaluable information such as which posts, what types of articles, and which products are proving to get the most attention. Earned media may also have links, but the links will not be pointing to a product or service.
The answer is both. In fact, as PR evolves, what we are finding is that it is essential to have an earned media as well as a paid media strategy working in tandem.
Among the reasons are the following:
Awareness: Today, almost all earned media and paid media are published online. This means the content finds its way into the search engines quickly. This builds brand and product awareness. Further, if it is a thought leadership article, earned and paid media help build trust, which is one of the first steps in the sales journey.
Sharing: One of the most potent facets of earned and paid media is that the articles can be shared on all types of social media platforms once they have been published. Further, key points in the articles can be pulled out, providing more material to be shared on social media. We once placed an earned media article on one of our clients’ LinkedIn pages. Within four days it had nearly 1,000 views, shares, comments, and likes – all organically.
Linking: Linking is like sharing, except that the links appear on your company website. A straightforward way to do this is to provide a “teaser,” three or four paragraphs introducing the earned or paid article, and then a link to the article in a trade publication. Once again, this helps spread your information, and it can improve your website’s search engine optimization in the process.
Repackaging: One of the big mistakes some B2B marketers make is forgetting about earned and paid media after the articles have been published, shared, or linked to on the company website. Those articles can be repackaged – rewritten so that they are fresh. In fact, if the topic is not time sensitive, they can be repackaged two or three times, generating more web traffic to your site, spreading the message and the content far and wide, and with it, the possibility of more sales.