Why Earned Media Is Crucial For Thought Leadership Brands

Jun 21, 2022

Jodi Amendola is CEO of Amendola , an award-winning healthcare and high-tech public relations and marketing agency based in Scottsdale, AZ.


To gain recognition in the marketplace, companies execute integrated marketing campaigns across PESO (paid, earned, social and owned) media channels. In today’s digital landscape with so many channels, marketing and communications professionals sometimes overlook the “E.” Don’t make that mistake.

Earned media is content that is published by a third party that a brand has not paid for, such as an article in a national media outlet, a guest appearance on a podcast or a bylined editorial published in trade media.

Earned media represents a valuable route for brands to share their messaging and promote their thought leaders—in part because audiences generally have placed greater trust in established third-party media outlets that have, in some cases, spent decades building credibility and name recognition with the public. (For tips on how to create compelling thought leadership content, see my previous article on the subject.)

Following are four reasons why earned media should be an essential part of any thought leadership brand’s marketing mix.

Drives credibility: Earned coverage from media and analyst reports delivers instant credibility and publicity, often illuminating a brand’s key differentiators compared with competitors. Engaging, relevant stories are key to driving placements that can be leveraged for multiple social media and marketing channels. Media and analyst relations are nuanced and can be full of pitfalls, so be sure to work with an expert team with experience to guide your way.

Reaches target audiences: Savvy marketers develop personas, which are fictional representations of customers with similar motivations, goals and buyers’ journeys. Brands can reach these customers and decision-makers through account-based marketing (ABM) and other focused digital marketing approaches. But these customers also consume lots of other content from trade publications and general business media. For example, if your target customers are chief information officers at large hospitals, target trade media outlets with content, messaging and customer success stories that will grab their attention.

Broadens reach for content: In a crowded digital marketplace, virtually every company has its own media channels—websites, blogs, social media and the like—and many brands and businesses think they can reach their entire audience through these owned channels. Owned media is a start, but it shouldn’t be the end for your content. Too many brands adopt a “one and done” approach to content marketing, in which they conduct a webinar, for example, then post audio or video of the event on a largely forgotten YouTube channel, then call it a day. It’s a missed opportunity if you don’t maximize the reach of quality content.

Instead, mine thought leadership content from your owned channels, collecting the newsworthy nuggets and repurposing the content with the media, particularly the trades. Task your marketing and communications team to review blog content regularly, and continuously keep the team abreast of strategic content in the works.

Leveraging this approach, brands get a bigger bang for their buck to stretch valuable content across multiple channels to broaden their reach and work more efficiently. Plus, you ensure consistent strategic messaging and storytelling across all PESO channels, too. Strategic content should be leveraged in as many ways and media as possible.

Delivers much-deserved recognition: When executives see their companies’ stories and messaging shared by credible third-party outlets, such as local business journals or trade media outlets, the recognition creates a positive feeling. Earned coverage, the E in PESO, from third-party publications or analyst reports simply feels good. This is particularly true for an early startup with a disruptive idea that can take some time to drive business. It can positively influence a company’s culture.

Business is all about relationships and credibility. To successfully leverage earned media, brands need both. Getting started on the earned media path isn’t easy, but after you’ve made some progress, you’ll see the benefits of broadening your reach through greater awareness and recognition among your target audiences.

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