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Debranding, Earned Media, and You

Debranding, Earned Media, and You

The future of branding is debranding, Forbes magazine proclaims, and this time around, debranding means something different than it did three years ago when everyone was excited about Coke taking their name off of their labels and putting people’s names on. Today, debranding means giving up on traditional advertising and focusing one’s promotional efforts instead on earned media.

Earned media is the coverage your business receives in newspapers, magazines, television news programs, and on websites and social media you do not control. This perception is that information found in these venues is more objective and reliable than advertising content; different media outlets enjoy different levels of credibility, which is important to keep in mind when trying to secure earned media coverage for your company.

Earned Media Doesn’t Just Happen

Before you start rejoicing about all the money you’ll be able to save on advertising, there are some things you should know. First of all, securing earned media coverage is tricky: you need to have a newsworthy, engaging story to tell, and a venue that wants to tell it, preferably in a way you’ll like for it to be told. Using good PR techniques, it’s possible to make an appearance in the relevant media for free – but it’s never a sure thing.

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Money Talks: Understanding Paid Media

To increase the certainty of coverage, the field of paid placement – known sometimes as paid media or native advertising – has expanded exponentially. Paid placement can refer to content you’ve created, or a publisher has created for you, that runs on a platform you do not control. Some media outlets are scrupulous about labeling paid content as such; others aren’t. The impact of paid media isn’t quite as great as earned media – today’s consumers are fairly savvy about the content they encounter, and will reject material that’s too sales-oriented – but it does appear to outperform straight advertising, particularly in terms of how long a customer will stay engaged with your brand’s messaging.

The cost of paid media can vary wildly, based on the platform chosen. You’ll want to do your research – securing coverage for $100 sounds great, until you discover that approximately 4 people per year ever visit the site offering that rate. Choose sites that have a significant reputation and that are relevant to your target audience: the odds are the prices will be higher, but you’ll garner more satisfying results.

Bear in mind that earned media is not without its costs. Identifying newsworthy stories and pitching them to the appropriate people takes time, skill, and energy. If you have people in-house who are capable of doing this work, great – but otherwise, you may find it more cost-effective to outsource this to an agency or PR firm. Of course, nothing beats personal relationships: cultivating friendships with local reporters, TV anchors, radio DJs and other media figures is always a good idea.

Don’t Abandon Advertising Just Yet

Debranding has its advocates, but we’ve yet to see a leading successful brand abandon all advertising efforts in favor of an all-media strategy thus far. More realistic is the idea of rebalancing your marketing budget to include earned and paid coverage, taking the funds to support that from other, preferably non-performing, advertising channels. Keep the advertising that works! Time spent with your metrics analyzing advertising performance is always well spent, but when you’re deciding which channels to abandon in favor of earned and paid media, it’s absolutely essential.

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Creative Director/Senior Designer

Tom DiGrazia

With over a decade and a half of professional design experience, Tom brings his knowledge of design principles and focus on user experience to every aspect of his contribution to TTG. Paying special attention to each client’s brand, personalized needs and individual interests, he strives to create compelling concepts utilizing intuitive and highly-refined design solutions. In addition to traditional and digital design work and oversight at TTG, Tom also boasts a wide portfolio of web development projects with the company, allowing him to stretch his CSS and HTML skills across multiple platforms and disciplines. He feels that being a designer in the digital landscape of websites, eCommerce solutions, email marketing platforms and social media, it is important to understand the code that goes into these areas as it assists his ability to tailor designs specifically targeted to achieve the best end result and further builds understanding and communication with backend development teams.

In his off hours, Tom is an avid pop culture enthusiast, staying up to date on the latest shows, films, comics and games. He can also typically be found taking part in a whole host of artistic activities that help him further stretch his creative legs. Regardless of the activity, Tom is always accompanied by his dog, Eli, and his cat, Tib.

Design, Photography, Illustration, Digital Imagery Manipulation, Wesbite Development

Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, HTML/CSS, Wordpress


Courtney Dumont

As Senior Marketing Strategist & Analyst at Technology Therapy Group, Courtney is energized by the ability to flex both her left and right brain daily. Courtney discovered her passion for Marketing at Bryant University, where she spearheaded research on students’ perceptions of Social Media Marketing for her Honors Capstone Project. After graduating Bryant in 2012, she joined the Technology Therapy team, where she’s honed her skills in social media, search and social advertising, email marketing, SEO, and more.

Since joining the team, Courtney has created digital marketing strategies and managed campaigns for clients across the country, ranging from plastic surgery centers, to jewelry stores, to construction companies. With a cohesive, cross-channel approach and a focus on data-driven decision making, she has increased their leads by up to 217%. But Courtney doesn’t leave her zeal for social media at the office; she also runs a local foodie Instagram account with her husband to document their meals across Rhode Island and beyond. Check them out: @hoppilyfed.

Marketing Strategy, Data Analysis, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Social Media

Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Facebook Creator Studio, Instagram, Klaviyo, Mailchimp, Emma Mail, Google Data Studio, WordPress, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft Office