Earn your media stripes

Posted by Opinion desk on 2 Mar, 2012 / Features

 By Desiree Gullan, creative director at Gullan&Gullan,

Every marketer should be eager to get “earned media” to build their brands online. For those who don’t know, “earned media” is when your branded content is shared through social media and online influencers. On the surface it seem easy and free: simply create some great content and watch it spread online. Right?

Wrong. Creating compelling content, such as videos, games, competitions and news is just the first step. Then you have to invest in online and offline PR to ensure that your content spreads. You may even support it with paid media.

For marketing professionals it’s important to include an earned-media section in briefs to your agency. This also means that you should not be satisfied when your agency goes off and does what it’s always done – create ads and buy media. It should also attract, motivate and engage your target audiences with brand content. Your agency should be earning media in addition to buying it.

Who is responsible for managing earned media? Activating the sharing of content is a different role to buying media. It involves a structured and strategic approach to identifying, understanding and measuring social shares. Internationally, agencies are appointing earned-media directors (EMD) to manage this emerging discipline.

At our agency the responsibility sits with PR account managers and the creative director. The earned-media team is responsible for staying abreast of digital trends; planning earned-media campaigns; selection of social platforms and online influencers; ensuring content is relevant to the brand and the selected social channels; guiding the creation and execution of earned-media campaigns from start to finish; ensuring maximum reach through paid media, online and offline PR and social sharing; and measuring the impact on sales, brand reach and marketing return on investment.

The last – and crucial – issue is results.  Quality always generates better results than quantity. You may have 10 000 Facebook fans, but if they don’t share and influence others, what are they worth? I can’t emphasise enough that generating high-quality, impactful earned media should be top of your list of objectives.

Creating and generating earned media is second nature for us, as we have always integrated online and offline PR into our creative services. Now we simply have to create shareable and engaging content and work to ensure it is seen, shared and spoken about in the online and offline space.

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