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What is Earned Media Coverage?

Public Relations Los Angeles through Online Branding - CreatingWhen I introduce the idea of generating media exposure a small business owner will often respond, “We can’t afford it.” In fact, they can. It’s important to understand there are two basic types of media exposure: paid and earned (often referred to as free media coverage). Each has its own merits and, if you’re working with a very tight budget, you may find earned media to be exactly the boost you need when you’re seeking to reach more people than your marketing budget allows.

Paid media is self-explanatory. You invest money for exposure in the form of TV and radio commercials, or print and online advertisements. The big advantage of paid coverage is that you have complete control over how and when your message is delivered, and exactly how you will be portrayed. The downside? An effective ad campaign can make a sizeable dent in your budget pretty quickly with no guarantee of good results.

Unpaid–or earned media–can be generated at little to no cost when you present stories of great value to news and information outlets. Instead of paying cash for exposure, you invest in the form of time and effort you spend to develop, pitch, and deliver on a story after it’s selected for coverage.

One great benefit of earned media coverage is that you can get your message out to thousands of people in your target audience at once. Your pitch may result in your being featured, interviewed or quoted in a magazine, newspaper, radio or television newscast, talk show, or blog. The downside? You don’t have total control over how journalists tell your story. You can, however, help to influence the outcome by using a well-crafted approach to media outreach, with a strong call to action–instructions people can follow to learn more about your topic, issue or organization.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of earned media coverage is that it brings third-party endorsement to your brand. Consumers who know, like, and trust the news channel, magazine, or media outlet that features you will begin to know, like and trust you as well. You can use the exposure as an opportunity to begin building relationships with individuals who respond to your call to action.

Earned media coverage can be an excellent, cost-effective tool for your marketing mix. Almost every client I’ve worked with had “hidden” opportunities for news coverage within their organizations. Once you learn how to identify those opportunities, stay abreast of new developments in your niche, have something valuable to add to the conversation, and always seize new opportunities to be a media resource.

Generating earned (free) media coverage is just one of the many marketing and public relations strategies I help my clients design and implement. If you’re interested in finding out more, visit for more details and to schedule a complimentary strategy call to discuss the unique goals and challenges of your business.


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