Earned Media Definition & Examples

Kimberly Surico |
 02/15/22 |
5 min read

Earned Media Definition & Examples

If Gordon Ramsay came on and said that a particular ingredient was good for your food, you would seriously consider it. Provided of course, you know who Gordon Ramsay is (he’s a world-renowned chef). What does this have to do with earned media? Read on to find out!

Continuing our intro, the company that makes the Ramsay-promoted ingredient would see a rise in sales because, like you, other consumers would know that this world-renowned chef wouldn’t attach his name to something that wasn’t amazing. And this partnership with Ramsay and the resulting sales would be the result of a paid media effort.

Conversely, if the chef just happened to mention this ingredient without any financial arrangement or partnership, the company would be winning what is known as earned media attention. This is what happens when consumers, influencers, key opinion leaders, other businesses and the media love your brand or its offerings so much that they naturally promote it – just because. And this is what we are going to talk about.

What is Earned Media?

The earned media definition extends beyond what we detailed above. Earned media spans all external mediums that draw attention to a brand or product. These mediums are people outside the business who have experienced the product or service, are satisfied, and tell others about it. This earns free promotion for the business based purely on proving its value to consumers and the market. And we have examples to share!

Examples of Earned Media

From the earned media definition above, here are some examples of mediums that may bring free promotion to your brand:

  • Reviews and mentions by social media users
  • Mentions by experts
  • Unpaid traditional media coverage
  • Unpaid reviews and mentions by content creators

Before we see some examples of earned media, let us consider the research:

  • Word-of-mouth marketing generates five times more sales than paid advertising.
  • According to Statista, 38% of shoppers in the United States consider online reviews very important for their purchasing process.

That said, let’s take a look at earned media examples.

Customer Reviews and Mentions

To consumers, customer reviews are a reliable means of determining the usefulness of a commodity before buying. That they are shared on the internet is a great help to buyers who trust word-of-mouth more than any other form of marketing. Studies show that 90% of consumers read online reviews before they visit a business and approximately nine in 10 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. The same can be said of mentions on social media and other community platforms, such as forums. According to Forbes, 81% of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by the social media posts of family and friends.


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To businesses, reviews and mentions by customers are often the best form of promotion for their products. Not only do they get exposed to the majority of consumers who read reviews during the purchasing process but also randomly to followers of their customers on social media. For instance, it is estimated that, on average, Instagram users have 150 followers. If one of your customers posts about their great experience with your brand, their many followers will see it whether or not they are on a buying journey. If more people post about you then more consumers see, and some see those “ads” more than once.

Savvy brands don’t let it go unnoticed. They find out what conversations are going on and from them discover ways to improve so they can get even more earned media. Social listening is the perfect solution for this, says Brandon Chestnut of Identity PR.


In our NetBase Quid Customer Spotlight series, Chestnut gives an in-depth look at the role of social listening in PR and earned media. You can watch the presentation here for free.

KOL Mentions

This is another progeny of word-of-mouth marketing. The impact of word-of-mouth is weighed in trust. We mean, a recommendation coming from a family member is likely to have more weight to the consumer compared to one coming from a stranger. However, apart from familiarity, trust can also be built by authority. This is where the concept of the key opinion leader (KOL) comes in. A recommendation from a renowned expert on a particular commodity may even carry more weight than one coming from a family member or friend.

Positive mentions from the KOLs of a particular category are always desirable to businesses. Promotion from a KOL is incredibly valuable because it is targeted to a specific and eager audience that is always eager to know what the KOL thinks of products and services that relate to his/her expertise.

While they may find your product organically and mention it to their audience, there is another way of getting earned media from KOLs in your category: Relationship. Just because KOLs are expected to be impartial in their analysis doesn’t mean they can’t be alerted about certain commodities. They are just as interested in providing the best solutions to their followers as you are to your customers.

Media Coverage

Once upon a time, TV ads started showing people chewing two pieces of gum at once. Before long, the sales had doubled…because people started chewing two pieces of gum at once, just like they had seen on TV. Even today, traditional media coverage is still one of the best ways to promote ideas and commodities. It was predicted that TV advertising spend would grow to $75 billion by 2022.

Getting coverage on TV, radio, or newspaper and other offline channels is not always dependent upon your budget. You can get earned media from popular media houses by providing value to them in other ways such as interviews and expert opinions.

One of the best ways to get earned media attention from traditional platforms such as newspapers, radio, and TV is by providing data to reporters. Beck Bamberger, CEO of BAM, recently laid out the process to a NetBase Quid LIVE audience explaining what it takes to be covered by news outlets and publications like Forbes, Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal. You can watch the presentation here for free.


Content Creator Reviews and Mentions

And then content creators such as YouTubers and podcasters have audiences that can easily turn into customers. There is as great variety in the type of content produced as there are creators, and most industries are adequately represented.

It is not unusual for content creators to review or mention products that are in line with their presentation. In fact, some are built around providing such reviews for free. It works for them because the value they provide results in a larger, more engaged audiences. The bigger their audience gets, the higher their earning potential from ads served to the consumers by YouTube. Others work as influencers where they get paid for recommending products. Either way, they have an audience that recognizes their authority.

If you want earned media attention from content creators, you have to find them first. Most are active on at least two platforms: One where they deliver their content (e.g. YouTube) and the other a social media platform where they engage with fans and acquire new audiences. Through social listening, you can find out who consumers are listening to in your product category then go through the usual process of pitching them your product for a review or mention.

We hope our earned media definition examples have inspired even more creative ways of promoting your products regardless of industry. If you’d like to find the people driving the conversations – be it content creators, media personalities, KOLs, or consumers – be sure to reach out for a demo so we can show you how to make these discoveries on your own using the NetBase Quid platform.

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