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The Power of Earned Media

In any integrated marketing communications program, a well-planned earned media strategy can pack a powerful punch.

Because the message is delivered and received through a recognized third-party, such as a trusted media outlet or news personality, earned media coverage can often have a profound impact on its intended audiences.  Compared to social media or paid advertising, earned media is often a great way to ensure your message carries even more weight and credibility with its intended recipients.

But remember, earned media is not easy.  It requires significant effort and persistence to generate, build and sustain the media coverage you need to help meet the goals of your marketing communications program.

Laying a Strong Foundation: Media Relationships

Developing good media contacts and relationships is a critical skill for traffic safety communicators and a crucial first step in successfully generating earned media coverage.

Journalists receive many inquiries and story ideas each day, so developing a strong, mutually beneficial relationship can help ensure that you—and your pitch—stands out and breaks through the clutter.

Building the right media contacts in advance of your earned media effort is key.  First, identify the media outlets most popular with your target audiences. Then, go online and work the telephone to identify the reporters, editors, and personalities at each targeted media outlet who should receive your story.

For all media contacts, always know how they prefer to be contacted. And whenever they reach out to you, always be prompt in responding, respect their deadlines, and above all, be honest and forthright.

Honing the Approach: The Art of the Pitch

Media outlets first and foremost are trying to serve their customers and consumers with articles and stories that are interesting, new, unique, timely and relevant.

When pitching releases and story ideas to reporters or other media contacts, emphasize the angle or perspective that explains why their audiences would find your story interesting, valuable, or otherwise newsworthy. Thinking this through in advance and being able to quickly convey to a reporter why their readers, listeners or viewers will find a story of interest should help you gain better story placement and earned media coverage.

Crossing the Finish Line: The Hard Work of Follow Up

Because journalists are busy people, you will need to follow up with them after your initial outreach and pitch. Following up by phone and email is a great way to ensure your story gets the attention you want. And if it is at the bottom of a pile of story ideas, your follow up can help to move it to the top of the stack.

When following up with a reporter, be sure to utilize their preferred method of contact, which can include email, phone, or even social media, to ensure your earned media opportunity is received and reviewed. Be persistent and polite.

Continuing the Dialogue: For Long-Term Success

Earned media campaigns should also include thinking about how often and how best to deliver a message to its intended audiences over time.

Sharing a single earned media opportunity may be beneficial today, but strategically pushing a steady stream or regular schedule of relevant and timely information to reporters over time can help generate ongoing interest and coverage of the messages or topics you want to share.