Nov 19, 2018 / in Executive Insights / by Chris Lynch

Editor's Note: The post first appeared on Martech Advisor. 

The majority of martech today focuses on optimizing paid and owned media. Paid media spend reached $628B this year, while CMOs invested nearly $32B on software to power their owned media campaigns through channels such as email, mobile and e-commerce. Billions more go to agencies and consulting firms to optimize customer journeys focused on customer acquisition and loyalty.

But martech’s last untapped resource appears before all of us every day: earned media. Earned media is content that is generated by journalists, individual influencers, or regular consumers who are not in the employ of a brand. Earned media content can include news articles, videos, social media posts, ratings and reviews, and video, to name a few.

While brands tend to their earned media on a daily basis, until now, the strategy has been siloed in pockets. Content and social media teams may approach it from a pure social media marketing or “influencer marketing” perspective, while communications and public relations teams work with journalists and influencers. According to the 2018 Global Comms Report, more than 60 percent of chief communication officers (CCOs) and CMOs say that their organizations struggle with managing siloed, disparate campaigns across channels.

The siloed approach to earned media is giving rise to a new discipline within martech: Earned Media Management (EMM). By definition, EMM is the strategic combination of technology, data, processes and analysis to modernize the comms function from an expense into a business driver.

There are four core tenets to earned media management, highlighted in brief below.

1. Influencer Graph

First, companies must take a data-driven approach to influencer identification. An influencer graph is a complete mapping between an influencer, their content and the actual audience that consumes it. This requires that communications practitioners start leveraging data stored in data management platforms (DMPs) and customer data platforms (CDPs). With that data, an earned media management platform can then utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to suggest the best influencers to target with a specific campaign.

To Learn More About Influencer Graph, Download the Whitepaper, Building an Influencer Graph: An Earned Media Management Strategy.

2. True Measurement

Share of voice. Mentions. Publicity value. Such are the traditional metrics by which earned media has been measured. While these metrics help companies understand general brand awareness, they can fall short when it comes to tying those metrics back to specific business outcomes, such as driving new revenue, increasing customer loyalty, or avoiding revenue loss.

While earned media professionals should not focus exclusively on topline revenue metrics, they do need to modernize their approach by incorporating more top and bottom line metrics that the broader business cares about. True measurement empowers brands to measure the efficacy of their marketing communications based on the actual reach of a message and the specific business outcomes driven by earned media coverage.

How is it done? It requires an Earned Media Management platform that can measure which audiences consume earned media on different media properties and tracks how those audiences then perform desirable behaviors. This technology now exists and is borrowing many of the same principles of adtech to make it a reality.

3. Smart Engagement

Today, comms and earned media managers often take a one-size-fits-all approach to content and messaging. When a major news event worthy of coverage emerges — such as a product launch or an executive announcement — a press release or social media post is issued and disseminated across large networks.

To do Earned Media Management properly, brands must adopt smart engagement. Smart engagement is an approach to content and comms distribution that values a proper mix of both reach and relevance for each individual audience member.

Let’s see how it works through an example. Imagine a retail brand launches a winter line of clothing. Rather than issue one press release announcing the new product line, the brand could distribute three discrete press releases about their ski jackets for male, female and kids designs within that launch.

4. Comms Transformation

Finally, much like other pockets of martech, earned media must change the way it approaches technology, process and integration. Comms transformation is the unification of earned media management under one platform, workflow, and business process, and the integration of earned media with marketing’s broader media mix in paid and owned channels.

This requires three components:

1. Earned Media Management platform. 

This is a technology platform that provides a central place for teams to identify relevant influencers to their customer base, distribute campaigns to those influencers, and measure the impact on business objectives. Comms and earned media professionals can search and access reports, while artificial intelligence will recommend influencers and surface content themes that matter.

2. Earned media integration. 

This is a set of APIs and data integrations that enables earned media management platforms to talk to the broader martech ecosystem, including owned and paid media software applications.

3. Human insight. 

Sometimes, technology can only go so far to address earned media challenges. In-house comms professionals that focus on analysis, professional services teams aligned with an earned media management platform, and agencies can help do custom work above-and-beyond what software applications can do.

Earned Media Management is the next critical factor for the overall martech stack, and one that will enhance the efforts of your paid and owned media strategies.

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About Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch oversees Cision’s global marketing teams. Serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Lynch is responsible for Cision’s global marketing strategy — spanning communications, product and digital marketing. Previously, he ran product marketing and go-to-market strategy for Oracle’s Marketing Cloud business and also held leadership positions at companies like Badgeville and TIBCO. Based in San Francisco, Lynch attended Northeastern University where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Follow him on Twitter @cglynch.