How Campaigns Can Capitalize on Earned Media

by Ben Holse (He/Him)

White woman with short hair and glasses sitting in a coffee shop looking at a newspaper with a cup of coffee in her hand.

Make the Most of the Earned Media You Have

With the changing local media landscape, it’s difficult for small and mid-sized campaigns to get covered by a local news outlet and generate earned media. The majority of the local media is busy covering national stories and continues to lose local political reporters. It’s an unfortunate fact in this day and age that many small or mid-sized campaigns just won’t get much earned media. This means that you really need to capitalize on the limited earned media you do get and work to get as much runway out of it as possible. But we’ve seen too many campaigns that aren’t capitalizing on the one or two positive news stories they get in a campaign, simply because they haven’t mapped out a plan for how to use it. Below are a few of the ways to capitalize on the limited positive news coverage a small or mid-sized campaign will get. 
Post it on social media

Okay, this one’s easy and tends to be the one thing campaigns will do if they are doing anything to promote positive earned media. Whenever your campaign gets positive earned media, you need to post that across all of the campaign’s social media channels in a timely manner (i.e., the same day). Depending on the content story, it may be worth it to promote the story through paid advertising to make sure key influencers in the community engage with the content and see these stories.  

Send out an email to supporters

We’ve all been there; you know you need to be sending out more emails, but in the heat of the campaign, it can be hard to come up with ideas on what to send. Positive earned media makes for a great jumping-off point for mass emails to send out to your list of supporters. There’s a reason we’ve all gotten an email from a campaign saying, “FiveThirtyEight has us as one of the most winnable seats in the country.” It’s because they tend to pique people’s interest and get them to open emails. Make sure you’re sending any positive articles out to your full list of supporters and asking your list to help build on the momentum by giving to your campaign.  

Write personalized emails to donors

In addition to sending out positive earned media to your network of supporters, you should also be using positive earned media to send personalized notes to donors. We see this mistake all too often—candidates will assume that a donor has already seen an article just because it appeared in their local paper. Like the rest of us, potential donors are very busy people and aren’t hitting refresh on the local newspaper to read every single story. Make sure you’re sending around any positive earned media to past and potential donors to demonstrate your viability and encourage them to give. You can make sure to include a personal note, “I wanted to make sure you seen what Johnny Smith wrote about our campaign in the Daily News.” 

Post articles on your website

Depending on the amount of earned media you expect to receive, we often recommend that campaigns create an “In the News” section on their website. This is to both have a collection point for all of your articles, as well as to gain valuable SEO benefit for your website. In short, SEO is the practice of how well your website shows up around certain keywords. In a perfect world, if you Googled “Johnny Smith for State Senate,” your campaign website would come up. But you need to proactively do some work to demonstrate to Google that your website is the authentic Johnny Smith for State Senate site, which is the process of SEO. To get the most out of these earned media articles from an SEO perspective, you should write a short summary of the article and then include a link to the article itself. Google dings you if you just copy text from another article and repost if verbatim, so you’ll want to write short, custom summaries (one short paragraph) about the articles and then include a link back to the original article in your post. 

Request a backlink to the campaign website

As mentioned above, in addition to highlighting the article by sending it to your campaign supporters and donors, you also need to be maximizing any earned media for your website’s SEO benefit. One of the best ways to help boost your campaign website is by getting other websites with high authority ranking to link directly to your site, and some of the highest authority backlinks that you can get are from news sources. Whenever your campaign is mentioned in a news article and gets some positive earned media, we always recommend that you reach out to the reporter directly and ask that they add a backlink to your campaign website. You won’t always hear back, but it’s worth a shot, especially if you have an existing relationship with the reporter or if you were interviewed for the story. 

Have more questions about capitalizing on earned media for your current or future campaigns? Want to learn more about how to wrap up your campaign the right way? Check out our blog or reach out to The Campaign Workshop for help!