Earning Your Earned Media

This article first appeared on the Kansas Credit Union Association website.

You know what earned media is, right? It’s when a media outlet covers your organization either by writing an article or airing a news segment. You didn’t pay for the exposure, unlike if you placed an ad in the same media outlet.

It’s not easy earning earned media. Reporters and editors receive hundreds of story pitches a day. You have to convince them your story is timely, relevant and interesting to their audience. And even then, the story may end up on the cutting room floor! See this past article Public Relations Circa 1983 for more information.

But what if you supply the content? Letters to the editor, byline articles or guest columns, are great ways to earn your media! News outlets are short on time and resources, so even if you just supply the information and they do the story, you are helping journalists by doing part of the legwork for them.

A few recent examples:

January is the month of New Year’s resolutions. KCUA submitted an article by President/CEO Marla Marsh about New Year’s resolutions…not to lose weight or become physically fit, but tips to become fiscally fit. This bylined guest column ran in the print and online editions of the Wichita Eagle.

We took that same approach with a TV station. This station runs a weekly segment called Money Matters. They aired the tips and mentioned KCUA in the story. Earned media!

These tips were also posted on the consumer section of the KCUA website, furthering our efforts and reaching yet another audience.

As mentioned above, letters to the editor can be effective ways to convey your message too. In mid-February, the Wichita School District voted to increase graduation requirements, adding a consumer financially education course for high-schoolers. The following Sunday, the Topeka Capital Journal ran an editorial in support of the decision. KCUA jumped on the opportunity and wrote a response to this editorial, which ran a week later.

Remember, sometimes it’s important to act quickly to get the story. That’s not always easy with an already full workload. But it pays off in the end with positive news coverage.

Don’t forget to share your stories on your social media sites. The letter to the editor mentioned above was shared on the KCUA Facebook page and on Twitter, resulting in several more Facebook posts and retweets, in turn increasing the audience and generating awareness of the important work of credit unions.

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