In 2020 and beyond, earned media should take priority

Advertising’s ability to reach audiences is only likely to diminish, making your ability to earn a media mention with a good story more important than ever.

In the past, most marketers chose to focus on “paid” digital marketing activities to achieve their goals.

Marketers asked: “How can I get our product or service in front of the most people in the fastest and simplest way possible?” The usual answer? Paid ads.

In 2020, marketing budgets have made a shift in allocation of funds to different tactics, and the data show quality content plays an important role in attracting and retaining attention among consumers.

Consumers are tuning out ads, both literally and mentally, and instead consuming content that is relevant to them and tells a story.

Ad blockers on the rise

In 2020, people get their news online and they want ad-free news.


According to a recent survey in collaboration with BuzzStream, 61% of people use an adblocker when browsing the web.

Here’s the thing—those same people using Ad Blockers are also willing to pay for ad-free journalism. With lots of online publishers now gatekeeping most of their content in favor of a paid model (for example The New York Times), people want to read their news ad free.

This clearly a strike against paid tactics like native advertising.

But marketers can still be seen by their audience with earned media tactics, like high-authority and newsworthy content paired with digital PR. It’s a win-win—you get all the good SEO value that comes with the link to your campaign—and your brand reputation skyrockets by being featured on a trustworthy news site.

A long-term strategy

Because brands are responding to consumers’ need for storytelling with high quality content, the need for digital PR, or earned media, is especially important. Without it, how can you get this content in front of your audience? If paid ads are a short term game, then earned media is a long term game.

Think about it: Would you ever click on a display ad if you didn’t recognize the brand behind the ad? I know I wouldn’t. So, first and foremost, before you can achieve high revenue streams from paid channels, you need to establish brand authority and reputation.  The only way to establish credibility online is through organic content and digital PR.

By producing high quality content that resonates with your audience, your brand can establish trust with its audience and eventually drive them to become loyal consumers.  Brand reputation must be built up over time—and it’s fragile. It can come apart in an instant if you’re not careful.

SEO helps, too

Earned media provides the potential for a substantial and diverse backlink portfolio, which then drives the SEO value of your website.

When you pair engaging, newsworthy content with highly strategic digital PR outreach, you have the opportunity to earn links to your website—and lots of them. Not only do you get the press mentions for your brand, you also get a link back to your site from the online publisher. All that good “link juice” is passed to your website. The more high-trust sites that link to your website, the better, because those links indicate to Google that your website (and therefore brand) is also authoritative and trustworthy.

When those links add up, and you continue to produce lots of quality content for your website, you’ll start to rank higher for the competitive keywords in your niche and your consumers will find you via Google search faster.

Focus on storytelling in 2020

Producing high quality content that is surprising or sheds light on a newsworthy topic is the key to earning journalists’ attention. U.S. Census data shows that PR pros now outnumber journalists 6-to-1, and this healthy competition among PRs ensures that journalists only cover the cream of the crop.

Content marketing, like a successful investment, has compounding returns that add up in time. The more high-quality, strategic content you make, the higher the returns will be.

It is said that content marketing is a marathon, and not a sprint. It usually takes at least six months to a year before you get the results you’re looking for.

Create great content, follow pitching best practices, and you’ll be on your way to reaping the benefits that earned media can offer your brand.

Domenica D’Ottavio is the brand relationship manager at Fractl.


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