The Benefits of Earned Media for Associations

By Elizabeth Ernster, Membership and Communications Coordinator, The Core Management Company


While associations focus heavily on membership retention and events to be successful, another component that can help provide free advertising for an association is earned media.

So what exactly is earned media? Earned media refers to publicity gained through promotional efforts other than paid media advertising. It can look like an article or story in a newspaper, blog, television station or other publication, as well as content shared on social media from relevant reporters or influencers. 

Earned media is essentially crafting a story to tell about your organization and “selling” it to a reporter who would be interested in covering it. Reporters are incredibly busy and receive multiple pitches from organizations every day. However, if you have an interesting story to tell and the time and resources to work on pitching to reporters, earned media can be beneficial for a variety of purposes.

  • Providing insight into your organization or leadership: Having a story written about your association can give non-members or potential members insight into what you can offer. It also gives you the opportunity to shed some light on your leadership team so the public is more familiar with your mission and values.
  • Establishing your organization as a thought leader in your industry: Utilizing earned media can allow your organization to share proprietary or insightful information that you may not have been able to share with the public.
  • Promoting your organizations services or events: This could be a major revenue generator if  people who are interested in joining your organization see your story. People may be more inclined to join as a member or attend an event if it is publicized through the media and not just paid advertising.
  • Keeping your organization relevant: Staying in the news keeps your association top of mind for the public. People may be reminded to register for a particular event or join as a member after seeing your association in the news.
  • Free advertising: Earned media means exactly what it’s called, it’s earned. It’s not the same as advertising or anything that requires payment. It takes time and skill to craft a relevant story and pitch it to the correct journalists, but the results can be tremendous.

By getting your association’s name out to the public, through the practice of earned media you’re more likely to attract new members and other opportunities for your association to showcase how it benefits its industry and the community.

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