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What is Earned Media? How Fits into your Content and PR Strategy

How Leads to Earned Media Results for Your Business

Pet businesses and veterinary practices always have information to share with their customers and clients, and referral sources. Most businesses use a combination PR Strategy of three types of media to connect with target audiences: Earned, Paid, and Owned.

This trio of tactics is often called a Content Strategy. It’s important to have this strategy in place. So, how does fit into your strategy?

A press release distributed on to media outlets can attract the interest of particular journalists or bloggers. The resulting editorial coverage counts as “Earned Media.”  Of the three types, it comes with the most credibility because it has been written by a third-party that already has the trust of your target audience. 

It’s helpful to understand the differences amongst Earned, Paid and Owned Media, so let’s take a quick look:

Earned Media: Earned media is described as quotes and articles in media outlets, written by a journalist or other news writer. The article or story, or as we say in the world of PR, the placement or hit, is what is earned.  It can appear in a print newspaper, magazine, blog, online outlet, tv broadcast or radio segment. The “hit” is typically the result of a news writer learning about a service, product, or business from a press release.

That press release caught the writer’s attention and started the process of developing a story. The writer may request interviews or product samples in order to write a complete story or product review. Earned Media is also known as editorial coverage.The idea for the story came from a press release, but the writer has provided her own words and written her own article. Because the journalist is trusted for her balanced opinion, her story is credible and persuasive to readers. 

Owned Media: Owned Media is described as the content that your business has paid for, and controls. For example, content that you add to your website, blog, Facebook and other social media pages, counts as Owned Media. Likewise, branded newsletters, brochures, in store displays and other marketing collateral fits into the Owned Media category. A reader will gain knowledge from Owned Media.  A reader will know that the business itself has written the content. Therefore, there is less credibility to this type of media.

However, it is still critical that company websites and marketing pieces provide factual information as well as differentiators from similar businesses. Owned Media is an essential element to an overall marketing campaign. Press releases become owned media when they are added to your website’s newsroom, for readers to learn more about your business.  

Paid Media:  Paid Media is described as traditional and digital advertising. When your business sets up paid advertising in publications or social media, or purchases and creates post boosts, banner ads, sponsorships, direct mail pieces and other digital or traditional marketing buys, these are all considered Paid Media. Most businesses weave Paid Media into an overall marketing campaign and PR Strategy. It is critical for digital marketing and communications these days. In terms of credibility, it’s lower on the scale because the reader knows that your business has fully created the content and controls its wording, placement, and timing.

To summarize, it’s smart marketing to use a blend of media types in your PR Strategy. offers you the opportunity to tap into the marketing value of “Earned Media” and gain exposure of your business through the words of bloggers and others in the news business. 

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The 3 Key Roles of the Media Contact

Each time you use to distribute a press release, you’ll notice that we ask for the name, email and phone number for your “Media Contact” — but who is this “Media Contact”? A Media Contact is the person in your organization who you entrust with the responsibility of communicating on behalf of your company with news writers, bloggers, and other journalists who are interested in your news.

The 3 key roles of the Media Contact are:

  1. Read through every email query and listen to every voice message and quickly decide what is needed. (i.e. does the journalist want an interview with a company executive? Or a product sent for a potential review? Or images of your product?)

  2. Promptly reply to any media query that comes in via email or phone. (Prompt means within one business day; sooner if the query has an urgent deadline.)

  3. Keep in touch with media and ensure they have received the materials they need — that the interview you coordinated happened, the product sample was delivered on time, and the images were provided with the correct size and resolution, etc.

An important detail to remember when distributing a press release is that the Media Contact needs to be available for at least one week following the press release distribution date. This isn’t a role for someone who is about to go on vacation, or who is too busy to be responsive to calls and emails.

You may be wondering, how many people will try to reach the Media Contact? The volume of calls or emails about your press release cannot be quantified in advance. Reporters will contact you if and when they are interested in your news, usually to gather additional information so they can use your news to develop an upcoming story or review. If the announcement or topic is not of interest at the moment, the journalist may file the release in a folder for use in the future. The more newsworthy and compelling your press release is, the more likely it is the Media Contact will receive many queries, and ideally earn editorial coverage for your announcement.

Ideas for News You Can Announce on

Distributing press releases to media outlets is an excellent marketing tool for pet and veterinary brands to reach their target audiences. The readers, viewers and visitors of a media outlet can include your ideal customers and clients, and it’s important to spread the word when your business has news that impacts those target audiences. If you are scratching your head and wondering what news you have to offer, take a look through this list for ideas. Most likely, you will find several news triggers in this list that will provide good content for press releases.

  • Milestone reached: years in business, years at a location, number of products sold, number of customers served, etc.
  • Awards from trade shows or other events
  • Local event participation and/or sponsorships
  • Contest promotion
  • Start-up campaigns from launch and progress to conclusion
  • New product launch
  • New addition to existing product line
  • Charitable Causes: donations to charities, recognition of charity, tie-in charitable cause to product purchases
  • Trade show exhibit
  • Industry speaking engagement
  • Survey results: most/least, top 5, etc.
  • Personnel promotion or appointment
  • Special holiday or seasonal product or service promotions
  • New service launch
  • New addition to services offered
  • Receipt of an industry prize or award makes it easy to get your news read by targeted journalists who cover pet news and veterinary issues. We look forward to seeing your news!

What Makes a Great Press Release? It Depends Who You Ask!

What makes a press release “great?” The answer depends on who you ask. During this blog post, we’ll take the perspective of various media people and answer that very question.

If you ask a reporter at a newspaper what makes a press release great, she will answer, “The content in the press release will be relevant to my local or regional audience and in line with the type of stories I typically cover. I can’t cover national news that’s off my beat. But I love to learn about news that impacts our local readership in print and online, with local resources and people to interview.”

A dog blogger from a popular pet industry blog will answer, “The press release will indicate that the company has read my blog and knows what I like to write about. The announcement will have meaning to my particular readership in terms of new products that dogs will love. Not cats! And if product reviews are requested, the release will clearly tell me who to contact for a product or a sample.”

A cat writer for a quarterly magazine will answer, “The news obviously needs to be important to cat owners, and because of our publishing schedule, the news must be important even at the time we can publish it, which may be months down the road. This is known as long-lead. So, an event happening next week can’t be included in an issue we are publishing three months from now. But an expert’s tips on how to manage hot summer days can certainly be sent in a press release that is sent out in January.”

A pet trade journalist will respond with, “The news must have a business angle that resonates with the readers of our publication, as they are the professionals in their own companies who are looking for the latest news and information about our industry. It’s important that the  company issuing the press release know what our magazine looks like, so that the news can fit into a column we publish, or be of interest to one of our editors.”

A major market TV producer will answer, “The press release must clearly refer to all of the visual elements that are necessary for a good broadcast segment. With only a few minutes of footage for a segment, and sometimes less than that, we need to see compelling press releases with outstanding visual context. It’s also very helpful to have interview resources who can be available at the last minute if needed.”

Keep these answers in mind as you write a press release. And check back for an upcoming blog post about the Anatomy of a Press Release, so that your format aligns with the media’s expectations. 

4 Tips for Press Release Content and Format

Journalists prefer to receive properly formatted, media-ready press releases. Here are four content tips as you begin to write your release. 


  1. Location and date. Follow traditional press release content guidelines by beginning your press release with the city and state of your business, followed by the date of the release. For example: CHICAGO, IL (September 15, 2016) – (Begin your release’s text here) 
  2. Headline, first paragraph and word count. Reporters receive dozens of press releases every single day, hundreds every week. To give your release an advantage, use a brief and compelling headline that will catch attention, get to the point quickly in the first paragraph, and keep the total word count at 400.
  3. Stick to the facts. It may seem natural to use descriptive words such as “amazing” or “cutting-edge” or “best ever”  but reporters will see those words as overly promotional, and better suited for a paid advertisement. You can still use descriptive words, but do so from a more subjective point of view. If your product is exceptional, explain why. If your service is unmatched, describe how. Make your release newsworthy rather than too promotional.
  4. Build a solid boilerplate. At the end of every press release is a boilerplate, which is a short paragraph that describes your company. It should be written from the 3rd person perspective, i.e., use words such as “they” or “the company” rather than “we” or “us”. Be particular about the website pages you point the reader to; if you have a new landing page for a product, and the release is all about that product, use that as your hyperlink.

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