A media strategy that has value for manufacturers looking for more exposure for their products is called earned media. It’s effective and what’s more, free.
What we are talking about is publishing articles in leading trade publications and on LinkedIn.
However, a couple of fair warnings:
One article won’t do the trick. Articles placed on LinkedIn or in trade publications must be ongoing.
Must fit with the editor’s editorial calendar. If your company manufactures commercial air conditioners and that topic was discussed in the March editorial calendar, she is unlikely to want another article on that subject for an October issue.
So what we are going to discuss here are a variety of earned media strategies that can prove very powerful for manufacturers marketing and promoting their products.
Earned Media Defined…Earned Media vs. Paid Media
Before discussing what earned media means, we need to clarify a couple of points, starting with the definitions of earned media vs. paid media. Let’s start with paid media because that is what most of us are familiar with.
Very simply, paid media is an ad in a trade magazine. Besides traditional advertisements, paid media may also be in the form of “native advertising.” According to Wikipedia, native advertising “is a type of disguised advertising, usually online, produced by an advertiser with the specific intent to promote a product, while matching the form and style which would otherwise be seen in the work of the platform’s editorial staff.”
This makes native advertising sound a bit sinister. It really isn’t. Most publications now clearly say such articles are “paid content.”
But let’s say we took that paid content and with a little tinkering got it published as a legitimate article in a major trade publication. Now not only is it free, it is also a powerful marketing approach.
A Nielsen study found that earned media is the most trusted source of information in countries around the world. It also found – and this is important– earned media is the channel most likely to stimulate the consumer to action. Not advertising, not native advertising, not banner ads. Now that is something to get excited about.
Starting an Earned Media Strategy
If you plan to start your earned media strategy within your company, the first thing to do is to make sure there is someone on staff who can write these kinds of articles. Once you have found such a person, I highly recommend hiring a freelance copy editor to clean up any errors in the writing before submission.
Along with being quality content, whatever you send to an editor at a publication should be as clear and grammatically correct as possible. If the editor must spend time correcting grammatical errors in your content, she likely will not work with you again. Make her job as easy as possible and the editor’s door will remain wide open.
With that said, here are seven steps to an effective earned media strategy
- List all the publications that serve your industry. With some industries, there may be many related publications.
- Once you have your list of publications, find their editorial calendar. Usually the editorial calendar, sometimes known as a “media planner,” will be in the advertising section of the magazine. In addition to listing when your type of product is to be discussed, it will note how many subscribers the publication has, what type of subscribers (decision makers, distributors, etc.), and whether the site has been audited, meaning a private organization has found these stats to be true.
- Working with the editorial calendar, note if it says “materials needed” followed by a date. Usually this means they do accept outside articles. If it is not indicated, email the editor, and ask if they will accept your article. Sometimes they will post articles online and not in print…and in my book that is now much more powerful because of the influence of the Internet.
- Timing is especially important If you want to get an article placed in the November issue, for instance, contact the editor as early as August. Production for print publications is always six to eight weeks ahead of the publication date, so an article written September 1 may not be published until November 1. This is true even if the article is placed online.
- Produce a “pitch” for the editor. To get an article placed starts with a pitch. Typically, if follows a problem/solution format. Here’s a problem your readers may have and here is a solution we offer. But be careful, the editor will not take a promotional article. It must be a thought leader article with your byline at the bottom.
- If the editor has accepted your pitch with a due date of October 20, for example, be sure to get the article to her a week or more ahead of time. You’d be surprised how many organizations and writers pitch an article to an editor, the pitch is accepted, and then the writer just disappears.
- Following these suggestions should help get your organization and your products known by a large group of end-customers and for free.
Earned media has value; people tend to trust items they read in publications, whereas they do not place as high a value on traditional advertising. If you are looking for a free way to reach thousands of potential customers, make earned media strategies an ongoing part of your marketing program.
Robert Kravitz is president of AlturaSolutions, Which Provides Content Marketing Strategies for the Professional Cleaning Industry. He can be reached at: email@example.com