How Earned Media Can Boost Your Brand's Reputation and Sales

Earned media is a cost-effective way to but through the noise and clutter of paid ads. It is more trust-worthy and authentic way of communicating your brand messaging to your target audience.


Bill Arnold

1/24/20246 min read

Earned Media
Earned Media

We often get requests, from companies who are trying to gain brand awareness and traction, that simply request that we generate compelling content and social media programs. While this certainly must be part of any engagement, they are overlooking that their back story, product, or principals have that “IT” factor that needs a different approach. This is especially true for startups, and early-stage companies, that do not have a lot of resources and need to become known to the marketplace quickly in order to survive.

In a previous article, Leveraging Your Way to Success, we talked about other leveraging strategies that allow our clients to take advantage of the time, effort, talent, reach, and reputation of others. Today, we will begin to address the use of public relations and earned media to catch that lighting in a bottle and propel your company from obscurity to the limelight.

We are going to start a series to discuss public relations and earned media. These are both important components of a comprehensive communication strategy, but they have distinct differences. Public relations refers to the strategic management of communication between an organization and the public. It involves activities such as building relationships with stakeholders, managing reputation, and delivering key messages through various channels.

On the other hand, earned media refers to the coverage and mentions that a company or brand receives from external sources without paying for it. This can include positive news stories, social media mentions, or influencer endorsements. While public relations focuses on controlling and shaping the narrative, earned media relies on third-party validation and credibility. Both play a crucial role in shaping public perception and increasing brand visibility, but they utilize different approaches to achieve their goals.

For every company, the PR and earned media path is different. Understanding what elements can be used to garner attention is the first step in any campaign. That requires a lot of homework to understand the industry and the unique contributions that our client brings to the table. At Prevail Marketing, we discern this information through our extensive discovery and assessment process.

Today, we are going to start with the discussion of earned media and the benefits that your brand can achieve through such a program. We will have future installments that present the best practices and will share real-world examples that have sent our clients' brands to become household names.

Earned Media

Earned media is acquired by getting an influential publication or media outlet to publish an article or content that is either created by them or by Prevail Marketing. The critical element for any earned media endeavor is that the audience believes the article was written independently of any payment or influence.

In today's digital age, where consumers are constantly bombarded with advertisements and promotional content, businesses are seeking new and effective ways to reach their target audience. Earned media breaks through that noise and clutter. Unlike paid media, which involves advertising and sponsored content, earned media appears to happen organically. The publicity and exposure that a brand receives through media coverage, word-of-mouth referrals, and social media mentions appear to be natural extensions of the news or trends.


Earned media offers several key benefits for businesses:

Credibility and Trust - One of the greatest advantages of earned media is its ability to enhance a brand's credibility and build trust with the target audience. When a brand is featured in reputable media outlets or receives positive reviews and recommendations from customers, it establishes a sense of authenticity and reliability. Consumers are more likely to trust information about a brand when it comes from unbiased sources, leading to increased brand loyalty and customer acquisition. What other people say about you has more validity than what you say about yourself. Ninety-two percent of consumers trust earned media more than paid media (GaggleAmp).

Cost-Effectiveness - The actual publication, or airing of the earned media content, is free. Even when you factor in the cost of producing and submitting the information to the news outlet, it is still a cost-effective way to generate brand awareness and reach a wider audience. Unlike paid media, which requires substantial financial investment, earned media relies on organic exposure and publicity. It can be further optimized by amplification of the content by word-of-mouth and social media shares. The impact, that media coverage has, can significantly reduce a business's marketing costs while still achieving impressive results.

Increased Brand Awareness - Earned media is a powerful method of increasing brand awareness. When a brand is featured in a news article, mentioned by an influencer, or recommended by a satisfied customer, it exposes the brand to a new audience that may not have been previously aware of its existence. This increased visibility can lead to higher website traffic, social media engagement, and ultimately, more conversions and sales. In many cases, the initial story is picked up and shared by others in the industry and further proliferation happens when those on social media (e.g. everyone) begin to share that same content.

Amplified Social Proof - We have discussed the importance that social proof has in convincing people to purchase something (e.g. idea or product). If you need a refresher, please read The Laws of Influence - The Psychology of Getting to YES. One of the most influential factors in consumer decision-making is social proof. Earned media provides businesses with valuable social proof in the form of positive reviews, testimonials, and media coverage. When potential customers see that others have had a positive experience with a brand, they are more likely to trust and choose that brand over its competitors. By leveraging earned media, businesses can harness the power of social proof to drive conversions and build a strong reputation in their industry.

By The Numbers

You say that you want more proof? We got you covered. Here are some compelling statistics that prove the effectiveness of earned media.

  • 92% of consumers trust earned media above all other forms of advertising (Nielsen).

  • 24-40% of all traffic and demand generation comes from earned media (Press Farm).

  • 35% of people online use adblockers, so you have to find another way to reach your audience (Global Web).

  • 63% of people talk about products they learned about through earned media. (Press Farm).

  • 81% of people post about products they learned about through earned media. (Press Farm).

  • 17% higher click-through rates are generated by earned media (MOZ).

How It Works

Our news and information cycle is now a continuous flow of information from thousands of sources. The days are gone when a few publications or stations were able to control the flow and narrative. Because of this, every outlet is starved for finding new and fresh content to share with their audience. If they fail to deliver compelling information, not only will their audience dry up, but so will the ad revenues that keep them in business.

This sets up the perfect opportunity to get information about our client’s brand, make it newsworthy, and have it shared by the outlets that serve our client’s target audience.

After the discovery and assessment process is completed, our team uses advanced software to identify opportunities to share content that can be naturally inserted in an article or made part of a news story.

Artificial Intelligence is used to identify news stories, trends, and creative ways to introduce our client’s brand into the conversation. We track thousands of journalists and keywords to find new ways to distribute the content in their publications.

While the news outlet does not charge for their sharing of the information, you must create a compelling and newsworthy story to attract the interest of the gatekeepers who hold the key to accessing their audiences and publishing your content.

This can be presented in a variety of ways. The limitation is only your imagination and the ability to craft a story that makes it of interest to the public. An article cannot come across as an advertorial that was written and paid for to be included. It can, however, be presented as an informative or interesting article about your product and how it benefits or impacts the public.

We have also incorporated public relations to make a client executive an authority in their industry. This allows us to use earned media by presenting that executive as an expert to speak on these topics on business and financial news programming. While this does not specifically promote your brand, it does give you third-party credibility which does – someone who isn’t paid by your company believes enough in your products, insights, etc. to mention, quote, or promote your brand’s content.

We always present to the media outlet either an outline and summary of the topic or in many cases we will fully ghostwrite the article for them and allow them the byline. It is far more impactful when the audience sees the information being shared was prepared by a trusted news source.


Earned media offers numerous benefits for businesses, including enhanced credibility, cost-effectiveness, increased reach, and amplified social proof. By setting up an effective earned media program, businesses can leverage organic publicity and exposure to drive brand awareness, engagement, and conversions. By following best practices and leveraging the power of data, businesses can optimize their earned media efforts and achieve impressive results. The statistics mentioned above further emphasize the effectiveness of earned media in influencing consumer behavior and driving business success. Incorporating earned media into your marketing strategy can be a game-changer for your brand's growth and reputation.

All of this requires that you build relationships with publications and individuals who are looking for sources’ material. You have to earn their trust and the understanding that they will be publishing an article that is unique to them and not a version of a press release or material that will show up elsewhere.

Earned media also enables your brand to reach a wider audience – an audience that may not know about you but can benefit from your content, products, or services.

Simply said, earned media may take more work, because you are not in control of the process and decision-making, but it should be a major component of your content marketing strategy.