No Pay and Still Play

When you think about getting media attention that works, you might be thinking of those radio ads where the irritated mother is trying to get her 34-year-old son to move out of the basement and get a job. Your internal projector might be showing the Geico gecko’s uncomfortable predicament in which he has to tell his boss he accidentally spent his coveted “first dollar” on a bag of crisps. Or you might simply be thinking of an interstate billboard for a personal injury lawyer you saw on the way to work this morning. The Heavy Hitter is at it again.

These are all effective, high profile means of disseminating your message to the masses. They are also expensive.

In each case, you’re paying a media outlet to feature your company prominently in the public eye. You’re effectively forking over cash to buy ad space, whether it be a few minutes of radio time or a predetermined square footage of billboard space. Mucho dinero means mucho ad space. No green means you’re out of luck.

But have you considered that you can get your message out just as effectively without laying down the lettuce for space?

It’s true. The fact of the matter is, you can get your name in print, on the radio – even wedged nicely into a few minutes of television airtime – without ever paying the media a cent.

The secret is in effective – and aggressive – media and community relations. In short, it’s all about “earned media.”

What is earned media?

Allyson Kapin, a blogger for, defines earned advertising as “media you don’t buy, but earn the old fashioned way – by taking the time to properly engage reporters, bloggers and influentials about your issue.” You can disseminate your message through blogs, media outlets, podcasts, photo sharing sites, social media networks and word of mouth. Instead of clients and customers gathering around an ad jingle or character mascot, they are drawn to your product or service for the experience it provides. That experience may come through media coverage or – more likely – a grassroots groundswell built around the familiarity of seeing your company in day-to-day life.

For example, take the case of KogiBBQ, a company that consists of two taco trucks that drive around Los Angeles, servicing Korean barbeque tacos. As Fred Wilson, a New York City-based blogger, explains, KogiBBQ’s marketing campaign consists of Twitter updates – the company has about 13,500 followers – and other social media endeavors, including a flickr stream and an active blog.

The company was started by a team of food professionals who sprung from top food restaurants. What they didn’t have was money. That’s when they found out about earned advertising, such as social networking.

“The blog, the photos, the tweets and mostly the tacos did the trick,” Wilson writes. “KogiBBQ is such a big hit that they increase the revenues at the clubs they park outside of at night by more than 2x. And the lines are Shake Shack lengths. People often wait an hour or more for one of these tacos. The point of telling you this story is that earned media is both powerful and free. But you must earn it. KogiBBQ posts photos to flickr every day and tweets all day long. They reply to tweets as well. They are active in their ‘earned media.’”

Earned advertising does not necessarily have to be limited to online social networking. It can also consist of community involvement that fosters freewill – and sometimes – media attention. Sponsor a little league team. Offer yourself up to the media as an expert in geriatric care. Host a gathering for elderly war veterans to meet and discuss their experiences. Build a positive experience around your brand so that consumers will get “good vibes” when they see your logo.

It can be powerful and effective – and it doesn’t cost a cent to the media.

Perhaps one of the most recent examples of effective “earned” media is the case of Ann Minch, a Bank of America customer who posted an angry YouTube rant after her credit card rates went up. As a result of her video, a BofA representative called her and renegotiated her credit card statements. Just a few moments ago, even as this blog was being written, she was interviewed on FoxNews about the effectiveness of the video. That was free advertising she didn’t have to pay a cent for. It worked for her. It can work for your company.

corecubed is experienced at building and implementing earned and some not earned advertising strategies. To find out more, simple contact us today!