7 Questions to Ask When Planning an Earned Media Strategy

    by Holly Hammond

    Date

    April 29, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    160910423Earned media strategies are the bread and butter of effective content promotion, and creating and promoting a successful piece of content comes with a lot of work.

    If you fail to construct a solid strategy, your content may miss the mark—and more importantly, it may miss your audience all together. But how can you be sure you’ve built a foolproof strategy? Before working on your next campaign, ask yourself these seven questions.

    1) What is the goal of this strategy?

    Defining the goals of a strategy upfront can impact the look and feel of the campaign. A strategy built to drive traffic may not look the same as one that’s sole purpose is to garner links. Identifying and setting goals at the beginning of a campaign will not only help flush out a campaign wireframe but will also make defining and measuring success easier.

    2) Who is your target audience?

    Defining and understanding your audience may be the single most important part of any research phase. If your business can’t identify the type of people who buy your product and absorb your content, you’ll never be able to get your message in front of the right people.

    If you have a large target market, consider a smaller subset to target within each campaign strategy. Dissecting your audience allows you to drive more targeted and lead specific campaigns, giving you the ability to deliver the perfect piece of content to the perfect customer.

    3) What popular media topics resonate with your audience?

    Once you’ve identified your audience, it’s much easier to identify the types of topics that will reach them best. Identify the top five media sites that fit with the target audience you’ve selected and look at pieces of their top performing content.

    Understanding the type of content that performs well on a site gives you two insights. First, it indicates that the audience finds it appealing and consumes this kind of information well. Second, it gives you a look into what kind of topics these media outlets cover. If you unveil the topics that perform best on sites, you have a recipe to create tailored content that will both garner media coverage and resonate with your audience.

    4) How can you use influencers in your strategy?

    In today’s media game, it’s not enough to get noticed on the media outlets your audience follows; you also have to get in front of the people they find most influential. People like people, and people are more willing to take advice on products and services from others whom they find influential in the space. Influencers don’t have to be your brand advocates rather they can be someone who is considered an expert in your given field.

    So how do you get an influencer involved in your strategy? One way to amp up your content is by involving influencers in its creation. Reach out to a few people you’d be interested in featuring in your site, and ask for a quick interview.

    In exchange for their time, offer them a prominent feature in the content you’re creating. They can earn added visibility as an influencer in the space, and adding their expert opinion to your content creates a more trusted resource in your content.

    Finally, this offers an opportunity for the influencers to share it with their community. Understanding the influencer dynamic and implementing it into your earned media strategy can turn your content strategy from good to great.

    5) What is the social strategy for this campaign?

    Consider all social strategies as an added element of your overall earned media strategy. Social platforms can provide a relatively inexpensive strategy to amplify your content to new audiences. Consider creating a social overview for the campaign that identifies which platforms you’ll target and a timeline for execution. Once you have a general overview of the scope of your social campaign, you’ll be able to create content calendars with tailored audience messages.

    6) How will you use paid advertisement?

    Paid advertisements are a great way to amplify earned placements, garnering even more fresh viewers to your content. With native and paid advertising taking off, content can be amplified on media outlets or social platforms and can help you reach a wide audience at a low cost.

    Just like your social strategy, create an overview of the paid strategy you’d like to implement. Once you start earning media, look to see which pieces are driving the most traffic back to your site and consider amplifying those pieces. Try straight content amplification using tools like Outbrain and Taboola, or create native ads in the form of sponsored social pushes or editorials. Paid advertisements aren’t meant to be the only way users view your content; instead, they’re a way to expand your reach to the right audience.

    7) How will you measure success?

    Measuring success can be very tricky when dealing with earned media. If you set goals in the beginning of your campaign, you can track your success in meeting those goals throughout. But if you’re new to setting baseline goals for an earned media strategy, this can be the hardest concept to grasp.

    Consider looking at how other pieces of content have performed on your site to gather data to help set a baseline. Choose two similar pieces of content: one that you actively promoted and one that you did not. Check the referral traffic, organic traffic, unique visits and social visits for each. The non-promoted content will give you an idea of how a normal page performs on your website, while the promoted piece can give you more insight into the numbers you could consider for a baseline. Regardless of what numbers you set, understanding how they tie into the goals will be the ultimate decider of success.

    Whether building a strategy for traffic or conversion, developing earned media strategies takes on a different shape for every piece of content.  Understanding your goals and target audience allows you to deliver the right message every time. When you’re building content that the audience wants, your social and paid aspects become an added bonus for amplifying your content. No two earned media strategies are alike, but asking yourself these seven questions will ensure you cover all the bases for a great campaign.

    Written by Holly Hammond

    Holly Hammond is a media outreach specialist at DigitalRelevance. She is a young Indianapolis professional with a knack for content marketing and a love for sharing her experiences through writing. She is a digital marketing professional with extensive experience in both social planning and promotion.

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