Is there is a place for earned media in a rapidly evolving media landscape?

With diversity of channels and mediums available to choose from, earned media has historically been simple. Pick your audience, have something interesting and new to say, package your story in a format they’re familiar and engage with, and you’re golden.


But two hurdles – one familiar and one emerging – mean that earned media is a different beast than it was 10, five, or even two years ago.


First – and one thing we’ve known for a long time – is that earned media is like a puzzle: some pieces are easy to control, and others are more of an educated guess. But one thing we know for sure is that every piece of that puzzle plays a role in completing a whole picture; lose one piece, and it’s unlikely your story will ever see the light of day.


To that end, media is successfully earned when it’s thoughtfully tailored for journalist, publication, and audience – and when the journalist has all the information and assets they need to craft a colourful and interesting story without hassle. It’s genuinely newsworthy in that it’s timely and relevant, not forced, nor self-serving. And it’s well-timed, launched outside of breaking news peaks but at a time when your target audience is most likely to engage with it.


The other, newer hurdle we face is the rapidly changing nature of the media landscape itself. It’s shrinking in the number of outlets, meaning there’s less space for earned stories, and the workforce is shrinking with it, meaning breaking news is often prioritised by increasingly busy journalists with broader, generalist beats and fewer resources.


Add to that the fact that news and content has been dominated by COVID-19 for more than two years and the space for other stories is further squeezed.


Advertising cuts, too, have seen many publications pivot to a “pay-for-play” model in a bid to recoup losses.


So, is there still a place for earned media in this evolving landscape? Earned media is a highly effective communication tool when all the puzzle pieces are in place, but it must be deployed as part of a diverse media strategy in order to achieve awareness and consideration in an increasingly hybridised media landscape.


The good news is that PR is best-placed to proactively help brands craft compelling narratives and seed them across multiple channels as part of a diverse communications strategy encompassing earned media, paid integration, social amplification, influencer engagement, owned content, and events.


Our years of experience in multichannel executions mean we know how to get the story right, tailoring strong (and often exclusive) news hooks for specific audiences and setting our clients up for success in a cluttered market.


We’re also adept at generating guaranteed awareness through paid integration, leveraging our media relationships to create an authentic and credible customer experience.


Add to that our ability to maximise reach and engagement through amplification on our clients’ owned channels and beyond, and you have a recipe for a truly integrated and highly effective media strategy, built to withstand a rapidly evolving media landscape.


As for earned media, it will always have a place in our landscape and in every PR executive’s heart. We thrive on crafting stories that tap into culture and trends globally and locally, across business and lifestyle – stories that inform, that add to the discourse, and that people want to read and share. That’s what gets an earned story across the line, and nothing can beat the buzz of landing that headline.




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