Earned media remains vital despite another ABC fall

Earned media

Earned media is brand coverage in a newspaper or online publication resulting from selling-in a great story, interview or news item. The traditional lifeblood of public relations, despite some rather painful ABC figures unveiled last week it’s still a vital part of any comms strategy.

ABC— the UK Audit Bureau of Circulation—  measures the overall circulation of major newspapers and magazines. The numbers dictate advertising value, and also give an idea as to which are the most influential in terms of reach. From a brand perspective, that means which of these earned media targets you should be prioritising.

So just how bad are the numbers? Year-on-year declines became something of a year-on-year standard some time ago, but 2019 looks particularly bleak at the red top-end of the game. The majority of tabloid titles have seen double-digit falls in the last 12 months.

Biggest losers in the media hitlist

Title                                 Circulation                     Year-On-Year Change 

Sunday People                151,523                             -18%

Sunday Post                    96,422                              -17%

Daily Star Sunday          184,914                            -16%

Sunday Mirror                403,350                           -15%

Daily Star                         310,246                            -15%

Sunday Mail                    113,712                              -14%

The Sun on Sunday       1,066,147                          -13%

Daily Mirror                    488,829                           -13%

The Sun                           1,277,847                          -12%

Daily Telegraph             327,345                             -12%


Earned media is still a powerful PR force

Nevertheless, earned media remains a powerful force in the PR mix for a number of reasons. You can find more than a few here, in our free-to-download Guide to Earned Media. These include:

*Amplification and distribution — even with worrying downward trends, major publications, whether tabloid or broadsheet, have impressive reach. If you want to get the biggest bang for your marketing bucks nothing says value like well-placed coverage in high-circulation media.

*Credibility — the Edelman Trust Barometer might not paint the best picture of the public’s view of journalists. But, having said that, the level of due diligence and professionalism within this sector means outlets are still considered to be credible sources.

*Sustainability — paying for an online, TV or print advertising campaign can be very costly. In comparison, selling a great story into the press requires much less financial investment. The ROI is far greater than an ad, too, because people have more faith in word of mouth, impartial recommendations than paid-for space.

Earned media

Top tips for selling-in stories

There’s no sure-fire recipe for earned media success. But what we can tell you is the following should be avoided AT ALL COSTS…

*Irrelevant stories— Not all journalists cover the same desks or patches, so it’s vital that you read a writer’s work before approaching to make sure you’re in the right ball park with your pitch.

*Non story— Journalists are there to report on things that are genuinely newsworthy, interesting and readable. This means there needs to be a truly engaging story behind your pitch. Consider the following question before pressing ‘Send’: would I read this in a paper or magazine, or skip to the next article?

*Too little too late— Preparing editorial takes time, schedules are set days, weeks and months in advance depending on the frequency of the title. For online things move faster, but even then it’s unacceptable to email your pitch at 4.55PM for a story breaking the following morning.

*(Over)Zeal— Expecting everyone to respond after a single email is naive, but it’s also important to respect how busy newsdesk and freelancers actually are. A good amount of their time is spent interviewing and writing, so if replies aren’t coming at the rate you want don’t start hounding the pitch recipient. Carefully gauge follow up emails and calls.


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