How to Amplify Earned Media Through Digital Strategy

There's nothing better than the rush of adrenaline when an interview finally runs or your product gets mentioned by a key influencer. Big or small, positive earned media coverage is a win. Yet, many times that coverage only ends up in a report or perhaps a mention on the company website.

In today's digital world where we can track every like, share, click and conversion, there are more opportunities to maximize that exposure to elevate media relations wins. In many ways, media relations, content creation and digital strategy are now seamless, and it's up to us as communicators to ensure we’re thinking about how to best integrate at each stage of the process.

Amplify on Social

The line between media and social channels are blurred more than ever before. This trend, which largely began with consumers, is also now impacting how business leaders gather, digest and use the information they find on social to influence their decisions. That said, many audiences still view media outlets, whether the local TV station, an industry magazine or a national daily, as more reputable and trustworthy than purely branded content. Social channels, however, are the catalyst to amplify that earned media coverage and share it with new audiences.

Use paid social to receive more click-throughs. Facebook's Boosted Posts (which you can also set to run on Instagram) and LinkedIn's Sponsored Content are the fastest and most affordable ways to drive traffic back to your website or a recent article. You can target each ad by demographic information, job titles, company names, etc. and get your placement in front of a highly targeted group. There is a bit of a science about how to best leverage these opportunities, particularly with Facebook ads.

Use LinkedIn's publishing platform. If you've seen initial success from sponsored content or engagement on a post that you shared on your channels, it might warrant longer form content via LinkedIn Pulse. There are some best practices to consider about how to post on LinkedIn relative to duplicate content. The publishing tool is a great way to take a deeper dive into a topic with one of your subject matter experts. 

Offer a live Q&A with your SME. Social content is now driven in large part by video, so adding a human element to your post can also expand its engagement. Explore using Facebook Live, Instagram Videos or Snapchat to interview your expert on the topic of the media coverage. Or you can dive even deeper by having that SME conduct a live product demo that goes into more detail. 

Create a Snowball Effect through Influencer Relations

Do you want more coverage? Maybe you'd love to place a byline on a top blog? One piece of positive coverage leads to another because your credibility increases with each vote of confidence from media.

Include a link to recent coverage in your pitch to show credibility. The proof's in the pudding, so to speak, when you're pitching a new editor. By including a link to a recent article that features your product or SME, you are more likely to spark a conversation. Editors and bloggers seek original content, so it's important to share fresh story angles in addition to sharing the placement that already ran.

Offer to write a byline article on a similar topic. If you had success with an article placement, consider writing a piece from your own perspective on the topic and sharing with appropriate blogs or news sites. We've found that although it takes more work on the front end, sending a complete article with links back to your site—along with an interesting, high-quality visual (e.g., an image, graphic, infographic, video) leads to greater pick-up by bloggers. Remember that Google knocks duplicate content, so only share the content with the influencer who you want to run your piece. If they say no, move on to the next one.

Improve Your SEO

One of the great benefits of securing prominent media placements is, of course, greater exposure to your organization's SMEs, brand point of view and products and services. For your website, these earned media opportunities are equally critical to elevating your presence.

Ask for a backlink. In this case, the old Stevie Wonder quote, "if you don't ask, you won't get" applies when it comes to asking for links back to your website from the editor. The more quality backlinks that point back to your website, the higher your domain authority can potentially climb and Google ultimately rewards sites with high authority. You can also ask for a link to a specific landing page to help you measure the success of a media placement or drive leads. We use Moz to analyze links back to our clients' sites and keep track of our linking strategies. Backlinks should be a natural result of media relations success, so don't stress if they don't come easily or a site editor says 'no.' In this case, it's better to maintain a positive media relationship than push for a link.

Repurpose the content for your blog. One of the first things we do when a client's article goes live is write a synopsis of the article for their organization's blog using fresh language, sourcing and linking back to the original article. Not only does this provide visitors to your site with new content to read, but Google rewards sites with frequently updated content. Two birds with one stone!

Identify how the article impacts search results. Positive or negative, an article from a top-tier site could start to rank when audiences search for your brand name or a key phrase. Ensure that you're always monitoring your rankings to understand if you need to implement any online reputation management strategies.

Share with Your Stakeholders

It seems simple, but it's amazing how quickly we move on to the next thing without sending recent coverage to the people who would be most interested in it. Your stakeholders value your insights, which is why they are engaged with your organization. So closing the loop to share this thought leadership with your internal and external stakeholders is critical.

Share internally with employees. Upon securing earned media coverage (or really any time you post relevant, new content to your blog), be sure to share it with your leaders and teams. If that a synopsis of that media coverage lives on your blog (see repurposing content above), then use your blog's link to share with employees. If not, you can share the link from your organization's social channel (whether LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) or directly from the original source (e.g., blog, news outlet, radio or TV station, etc.). Above all, be sure to ask employees to share the coverage with their social networks. 

Send it to board members or investors. It's critical to share positive brand mentions with the team of people who are invested in the success of your organization. This can be as simple as one-off emails and LinkedIn messages, or you could add it to a section of an existing stakeholder report. Several of our clients include a media relations section of their quarterly board updates with links and summaries of each placement to showcase these high-level results.

Include it in your customer newsletter or prospect emails. Depending on how you’re currently communicating with prospects and customers, consider adding the placement of the article to an upcoming email or incorporating it into your customer journey.

Measure, Analyze, Improve

Measuring the success of earned media is where everything comes full circle, and you can identify which messages are resonating most with your audiences. We use a combination of Nuvi, social media platform analytics (such as Facebook and LinkedIn's dashboards) and Google Analytics to track metrics. These metrics include key performance indicators such as: likes, reach, message pull-through and sentiment, as well as identifying how the coverage and subsequent amplification impacted overall site performance. Tracking all of this data and analyzing it in a dashboard format has helped us connect the dots between media relations, brand elevation and sales conversions, far beyond metrics like ad equivalency and impressions.

The next time a Google Alert pops up in your inbox, think about how you can share the article and who would be interested in it. With a little elbow grease and creativity, you'll have more eyes on your content than ever before and will have a truly integrated strategy when it comes to communicating with your audiences.

Kristen James serves as Pierpont's Digital Strategist and supports our media relations teams to amplify coverage of B2B and B2C clients across verticals.