As we all appreciate, earned coverage, unlike paid content, has a level of 3rd party validity that elevates its value. That said, it can be difficult to secure especially in the current climate of media consolidation & ever decreasing news desks. However, whilst the number of traditional journalists & outlets is diminishing, the channels through which we can place, discover & access content is ever expanding. With the ubiquity of smartphones & social media we’re actually drowning in news-related content, the majority of which has passed through someone else’s filter.
Audiences we need to reach use an average of 3.6 smart devices & access up to 6.6 social media platforms monthly. This has ramifications for marketeers working to land earned media placements. It requires us to think hard about the types of content we choose to invest time & effort in. How we want to package it. Where we want to place it. And just as importantly, where else might we realistically expect prospects to encounter. With all this in mind, how can earned media strategies be created if the media landscape is in constant flux?
Changes in Consumption & Delivery
Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office states that the number of people directly accessing news sites is declining whilst those accessing news sites via a link on a social channel are increasing. That means the majority of news consumed reaches us either because somebody around us chose to share it, or because an algorithm decided we should see it.
We should be mindful of this but always keep our focus on the end reader. We’ve all encountered content that has seemingly been written for a machine and not a person. The stats might say it got lots of impressions. But what’s the point if nobody engaged with it? With more news consumed on smart devices we need to address how we package & present our content, because the means in which it is consumed can affect how we tell our clients’ stories.
In general people under 30 are harder to reach, being drawn more to visual formats such as Instagram & TikTok. This age bracket isn’t conditioned to pay for news either, the average age for an online subscriber being 50. So, when you’re running a story behind a paywall, you need to think who now reads it, when & how? In general people are consuming less news via traditional sources (TV, radio & print) & unfortunately online consumption is not bridging the gap.
So, What Does This Mean for Marketeers?
The net net is that earned media strategies need to be supported by other channels & shareable content. And when targeting a younger audience, use more imagery & video. When reviewing other channels for coverage then first conduct your due diligence to identify how best to connect & engage with your audiences. What resonates, which outlets will be the most receptive to your stories?
Media consumption will continue to change & the cost of collecting, reporting & distributing news is driving much of this change. There is a clear split in how different media look to manage this as a business.
Some rely on advertising, relying on mainstream stories that can spread widely on social media. That’s to our advantage if the message we want to convey can be adapted to this purpose & benefits from spreading widely.
Others look to justify a subscription, which means offering clear value to a very specific user. This also can be to our advantage if the message we need to convey is unique only to those with a specific interest, job title or job function.
For example, why go wide in our targeting if what we have to tell only needs to be heard by a select few who actually matter? For example, the specifics of how to better manage digital identities need only be properly heard, understood, & accepted by the handful of individuals whose responsibility it is to manage that within their organisation.
The media landscape is evolving. How we secure, amplify & maximise the value of earned coverage is adapting alongside it.