The rise of social media led to some people sounding the alarm that earned media was on its last legs. Now, several years into the social revolution, the obituaries for earned media weren’t just premature, they were just wrong.
Yes, digital traffic is the driving force in news consumption, and mobile has already eclipsed desktop platforms; 39 out of 50 news sites gain the majority of their traffic from mobile devices. The media industry has kept pace by prioritizing mobile apps and creating unique content for that audience. Print and non-mobile devices are becoming less relevant.
However, the trend doesn’t reflect any less interest in news in general. Local and network TV news actually increased their viewer numbers in 2015; cable news saw declines, but grew their online audiences. Though traditional print reporting has contracted, digital journalism is growing. BuzzFeed has seen explosive growth with nearly a 170% increase in its writing staff. Large media outlets such as Quartz, Vice, and The Huffington Post have been hiring reporters, not just in the US, but also around the world, and opened up dozens of overseas bureaus to become global outlets.
Following these trends, earned media is – and will remain – a key channel of influence. Its power to communicate a brand’s key messages should not be underestimated, as it lends brands the third-party credibility today’s savvy consumer seeks out prior to purchasing. Earned media should be the cornerstone of driving reputation and the concept of it no longer just applies to traditional media outlets. A similar approach is required in effective social media engagement and content marketing.
Agency partners must incorporate these approaches into integrated campaigns. We create spheres of influence with top journalists and build relationships based on trust. Through efforts that focus on a strategic mix of earned, social media, and content, we create the building blocks of reputation for clients – making them industry leaders, driving consumer engagement, and increasing market share.
Consumers will always be drawn to quality and, of course, content is king. People will always want the news, platform aside, something savvy media brands have known all along.
Jennifer Risi is MD, media influence, and head of media relations, North America at Ogilvy Public Relations.