Nielsen, the information, research and measurement company has recently released results that has sent shivers through the digital marketing world and yet doesn’t really surprise those in the PR industry that much. In a nutshell they have data that shows…

On average, earned media lifted brand familiarity 88 percent more than branded content and 50 percent more than user reviews.

nielson study


But what does this mean? Let’s analyse the difference between “earned media” and “content marketing” first.

Content Marketing

This has been a buzzword for some time now and it essentially states that getting your content out to your potential customers will give those customers a more rounded view of your product or service. Indeed, even better is if you explain to people how you do what you do, in effect you give away “the answers” and by doing so you impart trust – and let’s face it, people buy off people they trust.

Of course, how you give out that information is also a major part of the equation. People consume information in different ways. Some like to watch a video, others like to read an e-book, others prefer bite-size blog posts. Many like to read a post on Facebook on their mobile phone and for some, a 140 character Tweet is all they need. Content marketing addresses these needs by allowing people to consume their content in many ways, as long as you provide it in the appropriate format and give them something to view/read/listen to.

For example, this blog post will eventually make its way to Slideshare, YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook. I’ll probably post it on my personal Twitter account so it goes to a few thousand people that way, too.

Earned Media

socialwebThis is quite different. In the world above, the content comes from “us”. So, if we were to write a tonne of articles about the best way to engage with PR companies, it would have “Pinnacle PR” stamped all over it. So an article could explain how Pinnacle is the best Tech PR agency for engineering, for example, and that would be our content. However if that article is earned, it means someone else is saying it or, at very least, endorsing it.

Take reviews – they’re a form of earned media. It’s a general assumption that on many sites the reviews are written impartially by people who have experienced the service given by the company they’re talking about. According to this study, people are more likely to believe something (and be influenced by it) if the praise, comment or content is written by someone else not attached to the product.

This is PR, plain and simple.

But it doesn’t stop there. Although out of the scope of this particular study, I have regularly posted about the benefits of earned media on site rankings, because Google loves the idea of earned links. For many years it didn’t matter where links came from, they just kinda worked and the more you had the more your site would benefit from it in the rankings, but now it’s much different. Earned links carry a lot more power than links created by the brand itself – in fact it’s now the case that if you create a lot of your own links, you could end up with a penalty.

But does this mean we can forget about content marketing and just do PR? Well no, that’s not what the report is saying at all. You see, in order to earn that coverage from other people, you need to give them something to work with. OK, if you’re selling fire alarms and you get a lot of reviews about them then you might do pretty well, but that’s not what it’s like for many businesses.

Some businesses with only a few customers cannot rely on just a few reviews or for people to write about them in positive ways, so you can do something else. You can get going with some content marketing. This is the ace in the pack. A content marketing approach means you can reach out to those people who might write about you and give them some information. The information should be free and therefore easy for someone to access, but it should also be timely and useful. If people find it useful then you may just earn yourself a link from an article.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say ACME alarms writes an article about how to better secure your home against burglars. The article is peppered with great examples and tips on how to go about making sure windows are secure and doors are all locked. It then has some information on where to contact the alarm company.

Someone finds that article and uses it to secure their home. They then write about it, together with a link to your article explaining to their readers about how good the article is. This earns you a link, but it does more than that. According to Nielson, the article that the other person wrote will be significantly more effective at influencing customers to pick up the phone and ask you to fit an alarm. It will in fact be more influential than a review, too.

However, without the content marketing and without the alarm company putting the effort in, that wouldn’t have happened.

InPowered recommends the following:

  • Build trust, cut through the noise: Begin with trusted content from credible, third-party experts to establish a foundation of trust with the consumer
  • Share your story: Once trust is established, use branded content to further connect and engage
  • Continually reinforce and stay above noise: Maintain your efforts by encouraging customers to generate user reviews, and continuously use more trusted content

This is what Pinnacle does.

Pinnacle uses content and inbound marketing to help clients get in front of the decision makers in their industry.

Call us today : 0208 869 9339