Press Loft’s Guide to Earned, Paid and Affiliate media

When it comes to raising your brand’s awareness and credibility, utilising multiple media strategies is crucial.But before diving in, it’s important to understand the differences between these strategies to effectively leverage each one and maximise your reach. Below, we break down three key media strategies brands need to be aware of, starting with our personal favourite:

Earned Media

Earned media refers to the positive publicity and brand mentions your company receives through organic channels, without direct financial investment. It is the result of unbiased third-party sources, like journalists, influencers, or satisfied customers, voluntarily endorsing your brand and featuring them in their content. 

Some of the core benefits of earned media include: 

  • Credibility and Trust: Earned media provides a level of credibility that can only come from independent sources. Positive mentions, reviews, and features in respected publications or from influential figures can significantly enhance your brand’s reputation and build trust with your target audience. 
  • Third-Party Validation: When others talk positively about your brand, it serves as a powerful form of validation. Earned media acts as social proof, demonstrating that your products or brand story have resonated positively with people, which can then influence a new audience of potential customers. 
  • Cost-Effective Promotion: Unlike paid media, earned media doesn’t require direct financial investment. It can be a cost-effective way to generate brand awareness and reach a wider audience long-term, as the exposure is gained through organic channels without expensive advertising costs. 
  • Storytelling Opportunities: Earned media often allows for more in-depth storytelling compared to traditional advertisements. Journalists and influencers may dedicate space or time to explore your brand’s story, values, and impact, helping you connect with your audience on a deeper level. 

The main thing to remember is that earned media is generated over time and you may not see an instant pay-off, especially when using traditional PR methods like cold outreach and pitching. Using a platform like Press Loft, which hosts product images in our online library for 25,000+ journalists and influencers to access 24/7, solves this issue by simplifying the PR process and saving brands precious time!

If you’re looking for instant results, however, that’s where paid media comes into the equation.

Paid Media

Paid media refers to promotional activities that involve a direct financial investment to amplify your brand’s reach and visibility. Unlike earned media, which relies on organic endorsements, paid media allows you to have more control over the messaging, placement, and timing of your brand promotions. 

Key benefits of paid media include: 

  • Message Control: With paid media, you have the power to shape and control your brand’s messaging. You can craft tailored messages that align with your overall PR strategy, ensuring consistency and reinforcing key brand attributes. This way, you can ensure that your products are being showcased in their best light.
  • Targeted Reach: One of the significant advantages of paid media is the ability to target specific demographics, interests, and behaviours. By leveraging data-driven insights, you can refine your audience segmentation and deliver your message to those most likely to be interested in your brand. This precision helps maximise the impact of your paid media efforts. 
  • Timely and Predictable Results: Paid media campaigns offer the advantage of generating quick visibility and driving immediate results. Whether it’s a time-sensitive promotion, product launch, or event, paid media can provide a swift boost to your brand’s exposure. You can plan and execute campaigns with specific timelines and measure their impact more easily. 
  • Expanded Reach and Amplification: Paid media can help extend the reach of your brand beyond your existing audience. By investing in advertising channels such as social media ads, search engine marketing, or display ads, you can reach a broader audience, increasing brand awareness and potentially driving more traffic to your website or other desired actions. 

However, there are a few “cons” that you need to be aware of before investing in paid media; For starters, unlike earned media, paid campaigns tend to generate short-term buzz rather than lasting impact. Because of this, they often require continuous investment to prolong their influence, making paid media strategies quite expensive to maintain. In addition to this, consumers today will often perceive paid media methods (e.g. ads) as less credible and authentic, especially when they are bombarded with similar content across different platforms.

A reliance on this type of media strategy can diminish trust and affect the overall effectiveness of a brand’s campaign. Overall, the best way forward is to form a strategy that utilises a combination of earned and paid media efforts to ensure that you’re covering all bases.

Last but not least, let’s discuss a new form of media strategy on the block that has become increasingly popular over the last few years:

Affiliate Media

Affiliate media is an area that falls somewhere in-between earned and paid media. It involves collaborating with affiliates who promote your products or services in exchange for a commission or financial compensation. It combines elements of both earned and paid media, creating a mutually beneficial partnership between your brand and affiliates. 

Pros of affiliate media: 

  • Organic Endorsements: Affiliate media leverages the power of organic endorsements similar to earned media. Affiliates voluntarily promote your brand, often through their own platforms, sharing their genuine experiences and positive opinions. This brings an element of authenticity and trust, similar to earned media. 
  • Controlled Collaboration: Unlike traditional earned media, where you have limited control over how your brand is portrayed, affiliate media allows you to collaborate with affiliates and ensure the promotional content aligns with your brand’s message and values. You can provide guidelines, review the content, and maintain consistency. 
  • Performance-Based Compensation: In affiliate marketing, you compensate affiliates based on their performance, such as generating sales or leads. This differs from paid media, where you pay for exposure regardless of the outcome. Performance-based compensation aligns incentives and allows you to track the return on investment (ROI) more effectively. 
  • Extended Reach and Audience Expansion: Through affiliate marketing, you can tap into the networks and audiences of your affiliates. This allows you to reach new and relevant audiences who may not have been exposed to your brand otherwise and drive potential customers to your website or products. 

Overall, Affiliate media combines the authenticity and organic buzz of earned media with the financial collaboration of paid media. It provides opportunities for organic endorsements while allowing you to maintain some control over the promotional content. With affiliate marketing, you can tap into new audiences, drive conversions, and track performance. 

In conclusion, for a PR media strategy, you’ve got three key players: earned, paid, and affiliate media. Earned media spreads the word organically, paid media boosts visibility, and affiliate media taps into partnerships. Choose wisely, stay true to your brand, and conquer the media world with your winning strategy!

What is Press Loft? 

Press Loft is a PR platform specialising in the home, gift and lifestyle sectors that helps thousands of brands to get their products into the press. Their PR tools allow companies to easily secure press coverage and quality backlinks for SEO by connecting with their network of 25,000+ journalists, bloggers and influencers. 

Did you know that we offer a FREE trial of our PR tools (including influencer outreach) for new brands? Click here to start your free trial and join over 1,000 brands already using Press Loft for their business!