The Harbinger Group

Earned Media Best Practices

Today’s media relations: Heavy on research, solid content and leaving no stone unturned 

It’s no secret that earned media has tremendous value because of its credibility and external reach—and it has evolved a lot during the last 20 years. As an example, back in the day, I used actual scissors to cut articles from the printed newspaper and glued them on paper to share with my team! Of course now we collect articles about our clients and their competitors, have visibility into their share of voice and the sentiment of each article—all with just a few clicks of the mouse. As we near the end of Q1, here are a few media relations best practices to keep in mind for the year ahead. 

Don’t underestimate the value of critical analysis at the beginning of a campaign to elevate the end result.

Maya Angelou once said, “You can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” At The Harbinger Group, we are particularly mindful of this insight. We don’t throw ideas at the wall to see if they’ll “stick.” That can cost a lot of time and money. Instead, we start all earned media campaigns with an audit, to see “where clients have been.” With this research we look at what media outlets are most interested in our clients and their competitors, topics they’ve written about—and perhaps just as importantly—white space that we can pitch for future stories. We leverage AI to collect targeted articles about clients and competitors, and we analyze the data to identify which media outlets to target based on their UVM and domain authority. We present these findings in a report to clients that serves as a foundational element of the campaign. With the results of the audit, we have a close look at what’s been covered and chart a specific path for how we can achieve earned media success. 

Remember that contributed content has legs!

Some clients are hesitant to talk with reporters initially because they don’t have ultimate control of the published story. At the same time, they want to get their story out. The Harbinger team often recommends contributed content as an important element of any earned media campaign because it gives clients complete control of the narrative. Outside voices have always been important to journalism, but given that many newsrooms currently are understaffed, contributed content has become even more important. With this in mind, always have a solid editorial calendar of contributed content ideas lined up to pitch to media outlets. Remember that the content should not be written as a marketing brochure. Instead, focus on topics that are of interest to the readers and share information that helps them solve a problem. Be sure to follow the media outlet’s contributed content guidelines! 


Leverage earned media beyond the initial “hit.”

I’ll admit, I still get excited when I see client stories published that the Harbinger team secured. That said, I’m beyond thrilled when I see that same content repurposed. Don’t take your victory lap after a story publishes. Instead, think of that story as a new car that you want to show off to others all around town. Whether the story is shared via social media, included in an email newsletter, spotlighted on a client’s website, the focus of a blog post or even a podcast—it’s a big win to take one piece of content and make it more powerful with extended reach. And don’t forget to measure the engagement, backlinks, etc. that results from repurposing the content. It all leads to proof of more positive exposure for clients!

For more information about The Harbinger Group’s approach to earned media and how we might be able to help your organization, visit