Content 110: Earned Media – Finding Influencers to Distribute your Content Live

By Steve Goldner

What is earned media?
A: Earned media is any publicity you haven’t paid for that’s owned and created by a third party.

Why is earned media important?
A: According to a 2014 PR Newswire whitepaper, earned media has great value; it builds a relationship of trust between consumers and brands, through third-party content. Nielsen study in 2013 also found earned media to be the most trusted source of information in all countries it surveyed worldwide. This trust attracts a wider audience, creates leads and helps to convert leads into business gains. 


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While developing your own original content (typically called owned media) is an important function of content strategy, capturing earned media is probably even more powerful. The likely question that follows is, “Why invest in owned media if earned media is more powerful?” The answer is that you are not likely to win any earned media without producing stellar owned media. Most people learn about your brand via your owned media. Not advertorial content, but content that grabs the attention and respect of influencers.

So who are the influencers and how do you find them? I breakdown influencers into three groups.

1) Traditional influencers – these are the individuals that traditional PR agencies court. They are pinnacle media establishments (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post) and celebrity-like figures (Mario Batali, the late Roger Ebert, Tim Gunn) in a specific area of subject expertise.

2) Emerging (digital) influencers – bloggers that have established a large audience following and drive thought leadership in a specific space. The poster child of emerging digital influencers is Robert Scoble. Scoble is a tech blogger whose rise to vast influence started from strong participation and guidance in Microsoft’s NetMeeting support newsgroups, and for maintaining a NetMeeting information website.

Another example of an influential blogger’s emergence from nowhere is Tavi Gevinson who commanded quite a following for her fashion blog. At the prime age of 13, she was a special guest at New York Fashion week. (It still astounds me how she came up in conversations at ELLE Magazine when I worked with them.) Emerging digital influencers could also be blogs (PitchFork, Mashable, Gizmodo) rather than individuals by name.

3) Influencers by connection – here we have your everyday “Joe” and “Jane.” People who have hundreds of friends … no let me correct that … hundreds of Facebook friends and Twitter followers. These people make posts and tweets and their connected friends react. “Saw a great movie.” “New sports drink was killer.” Their posts create response and action. If you represent a brand, you want to court these people to produce brand action.

All three groups of influencers have an important role in promoting your brand. You need to identify these individuals and media sources. Once you have identified the influencers, you should actively follow them. Engage and interact with topical influencers to build strong relationships. Building a reputation as a thought-leader, either as a brand or individual, takes both time and partnerships. The best brands use guest authors, do expert interviews, quote and comment on the thoughts of recognized influencers, and look to have their original work amplified by these highly connected people. Work to stimulate content from others. I often call this associated marketing … it associates your brand with independent credible sources. The sources are viewed as authentic (no brand subjectivity) and they are trusted.

I should add that the ScribbleLive Insights platform gives you comprehensive influencer lists, and lets you filter and sort them for your specific needs. Insights also shows you exactly which channels are getting attention and which specific publications are delivering reactions for the specific topics you’re covering.

Whether you use the Insights platform or not, you need to incorporate an earned media plan as part of your content strategy. Earned media drives awareness and consideration for brand.

Make It Happen!


ScribbleLive Insights is a data driven content marketing platform providing clarity on content generation and distribution.

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