They don’t call it earned media for nothing. You really do have to earn it.

People don’t share content they didn’t enjoy. You need to either inform or entertain, or both.

While social media has made it easier for brands to put out messages and have consumers share them, getting coverage in traditional media is still tricky.

Not only do you have to work hard to get your message in front of journalists and editorial decision-makers, but you actually need to have something worth saying in the first place to earn the media’s time and attention. Journalists will never do for you what your brand advocates on Twitter and Facebook will do. It’s not a journalist’s job to blindly promote a business; it’s their job to share new and interesting stories that are relevant to their audience.

It sounds tricky to navigate but when you understand that the media is really only interested in telling good stories, it becomes a bit easier to get through their editorial filter and get your brand in front of those mass audiences newspapers, television and radio offer.

So how do you go about it?

Have something to say

Firstly, work out what you think your story is, and then ask yourself the question, “Who cares?” Who cares about this story? Will this be new to the readers/listeners/viewers? Is it relevant to their lives? Does it add value to a current issue or debate the audience cares about?

Before you pitch an idea, try to imagine what the opening paragraph or the bulletin headline would be. Ask yourself if you’ve ever seen a story like that in the media. If not, then you probably won’t be the first. Keep asking yourself “who cares” until you have a solid story idea to pitch.

Identify the audience

Know who the audience is for your story. If you can’t identify the audience you’re in trouble because the person you’re pitching it to will be asking that same one question throughout: “Who cares?”

They’ll also ask, “Is this new to our readers/listeners/viewers? Is it relevant to their lives? Does it add value to a current issue or debate our audience cares about?”

Obviously different media organisations have different audiences, so carefully consider which is best to approach with a particular story. Who is your demographic and who is theirs? There’s no point pitching retirement planning advice to a hit music radio station.

Build relationships with media people

Why do the same faces keep cropping up in the media, commenting on various things? It’s because these people have an established relationship with the media. They’ve proven over time to be reliable, expert, engaging communicators and — most importantly — available.

Establishing a name for yourself as an expert will change the dynamic and see the media coming to you, instead of you always going to them.

Invest in good content

Good content is good content and will find an audience no matter the platform.

Content marketing has exploded in popularity in the past couple of years as marketers realise the value of creating relevant, interesting content and publishing it on their owned media channels.

Great regular content, backed by a strategy, will help build your credibility with both your own audiences and traditional media.

But that content doesn’t need to stay online. Owned media can quickly become earned media. Videos go viral on the internet and get picked up by everyone from BuzzFeed and Gawker to the Washington Post and the evening news. Finance bloggers end up with newspaper columns, gardening bloggers wind up with weekend slots on talkback radio and cosmetics vloggers do guest spots on breakfast television.

It all comes from great content — knowing how to tell stories. If you can do that - if you understand what the audience cares about - then there’s no reason your content can’t be as successful with traditional media as it is online.


Get in touch if you have good stories and you’d like to know more about how you can get more traditional media attention for your brand.

What kind of investments are you making in future earned media?


-by James Lush