Public Relations and the Importance of Earned Media to Fundraising

Armando Vera Carvajal August 19, 2019

Public Relations and the Importance of Earned Media to Fundraising

Media coverage in credible and high-visibility media outlets can have a strong, positive impact on the perception of your company. Communicating real news is the best way to get media coverage. This is called “earned media” because you have, well, earned it.

You do not pay for earned media. It’s not something on your website (owned media), like a press release. Typically, you (or your PR agency or PR consultant) have pitched a news story to a reporter and likely do an interview (either in person or by phone), and he/she has chosen to write about this piece of news about your company. Bingo! Earned media.

There are three basic things that you should know about earned media:

1. Credibility-building power of media coverage – use it

  • If you go to an investor for your company and they have already heard of you because of media coverage that they have seen, then the road is much easier for you.
  • If they’ve heard of you, then you’re already considered notable, so there must be something there, they think. This is the familiarity bias, which can work in your favor.
  • Anchoring is that people tend to place the most weight on the first piece of information they get, so you want to make sure you control the narrative from the beginning.

2. You cannot have complete control of earned media – accept it

  • Controlling earned media is not entirely possible, but making yourself available to the media for interviews and to share news on a timely basis means you will be able to tell your story.

3. Know your audience – do it

  • The one thing journalists hate is when companies send news releases or pitches to them without having ever read their publication/ site or customizing the story angle to their readership. It is recommended that you read and study the articles by the reporters that your company wants to target with a news story.
  • Journalists appreciate it when you are familiar with how they cover their “beat.” You usually get more earned media with a journalist who recognizes and appreciates your respectful, prepared approach.

Securing media coverage is a fundamental part of any sound public relations (PR) strategy. To maximize visibility, it is best to coordinate media coverage “hits” with marketing activities (paid and owned media). PR works together with Marketing to establish and advance the image of the company in the marketplace. A well-honed image will help you with investors during fundraising rounds. In many cases, perception is reality.

Many startups use PR agencies or independent PR consultants to increase media coverage because the PR pros have existing relationships with the journalists. But if you do it yourself at first, remember to study the target journalist first, tailor the news or story pitch to what he/she is interested in, and aim to build a relationship with the journalist.

Do not get too discouraged if they do not respond the first time. It often takes multiple “touches” to get a journalist truly interested. But it’s worth the effort, especially when you walk into a potential investor’s office and they have already heard of you or read about you. You’ve earned it.