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From press mentions to guest posts, free publicity can help you market your business to potential new customers. — Getty Images/eclipse_images

You can have the best product or service in the world, but it doesn’t matter unless you actively market it to new customers. If you’re not at a point where you can afford to pay for advertising, then you might consider investing time in building earned media.

What is earned media?

Earned media is free publicity that you receive from third parties. It’s achieved through organic outreach rather than paid advertising.

There are many advantages to receiving earned media instead of paying for ads. For one thing, the marketplace is starting to reach its saturation point with online ads. Consumers are getting sick of being marketed to all the time. For that reason, many brands are starting to look for ways to receive earned media. Also, earned media doesn’t cost you any money, which is always an advantage for small businesses. Even though it’s not a financial investment, earned media is still a way to get in front of a new audience and build interest in your company. Plus, you will often appear more credible because another party is doing the promoting for you.

[Read More: Understanding Pay-Per-Click Advertising]

One of the most challenging things about earned media is that, to some extent, acquiring it is out of your control.

How do you get earned media?

Here are a few examples of how you can receive earned media:

  • Press mentions: Press mentions can take on a variety of forms. The most common form could look like a journalist referring to your business in their article, or that person quoting your thoughts on a particular topic. Occasionally, publications will be willing to write a full-length article about a business. Press mentions can appear on TV segments, radio broadcasts and online.
  • Guest posting: In recent years, guest posting has become a popular way to receive earned media. You can contact a popular blog or website and offer to write a free article for their site. In return, you receive a backlink to your website and some new sets of eyes on your content.
  • Interviews: Another way to receive earned media is through an interview on a blog, website or podcast. Interviews are typically conducted by a neutral party and are non-promotional.
  • Organic traffic: Organic traffic can be a huge growth driver for many businesses, which is why companies spend so much time trying to improve their search engine optimization (SEO). Organic search comes with a high ROI and can be one of the best ways to bring in new customers.

[Read More: 3 Expert Strategies for Improving Your SEO]

  • Mentions from public figures: Receiving a mention from a public figure, such as an influencer, can be a great boost for your brand. This is not the same thing as paying for a sponsored post from an influencer. Instead, someone with a large following decides on their own to give a public shoutout to your company. However, you have little control over this process and that person’s audience may not respond as positively as you’d like.
  • Product reviews: Product reviews are a great way to promote your business to new customers. These typically happen when a journalist or blogger decides to talk about their experience using your product on a blog or website. Another way to gather this kind of earned media is by encouraging your customers to leave positive reviews on your social media sites and through Google or Yelp.

One of the most challenging things about earned media is that, to some extent, acquiring it is out of your control. You can’t control whether a journalist decides to mention your company or whether a website agrees to publish your guest post.

However, you can increase your odds of being promoted by creating engaging content and building relationships with journalists and media figures. And of course, your current customers are your best promoters so you should continue to deliver an outstanding service to them.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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