Power Presenters: Rand Fishkin on Earned Media

Announcing our new series, Power Presenters! Our first featured speaker is Rand Fishkin, CEO of Moz.

Welcome to Power Presenters, a new series on the iAcquire blog wherein conference speakers can go into more detail on their presentations or provide further insights into their field.

We know what happens at conferences — speakers are forced to cram their ideas into an allotted time, and still manage to leave everyone feeling inspired and ready to try out the onslaught of new ideas that these speakers have presented. We hope to use Power Presenters as a way to continue the conversation after the conference has wrapped up.

Rand Fishkin

The first conference we’re covering is Conductor’s C3, which took place in New York City September 17th – 19th.

We’re kicking off our series on C3 with Rand Fishkin, CEO of Moz. His presentation, “Can’t Buy Me Love: Leverage Earned Media to Grow Your Web Presence” covered why he believes earned media is a more holistic, persuasive, and passionate approach than paid media.

PR Director Allie Gray Freeland had the opportunity to ask Rand a few questions related to his presentation. Here’s what he said:

Why do you think earned media is more persuasive than paid?

Three big reasons:
  1. Earned media carries a flywheel effect, such that ongoing investments get easier to make while ROI becomes higher and higher over time. Paid media is the opposite. It’s relatively easy to invest in early, but the returns rarely increase, such that the same number of dollars and effort it took on day 1 to earn a customer will be required on day 1,000 and 10,000.
  2. Earned media is a far less crowded, far less competitive, and far less invested-in space than paid. Because it’s hard to measure, requires a lot of upfront effort, takes creativity, and rewards persistence over raw finances, it’s an amazing way to stand out from the crowd of your competition.
  3. Earned traffic is almost universally higher in volume and in quality, and I believe that trend is going to continue. Consumers don’t love advertising – we love content. Consuming the wonderful world of the web is tremendously enjoyable, but being interrupted by advertising is annoying. It’s no wonder that visitors who come from inbound marketing sources (SEO, social, content, links, branded, opt-in email, etc) tend to perform far better than their paid referrals counterparts.

What earned marketing tactics can you use to inspire brand loyalty?

One of the best is to be a consistent source of valuable information, resources, and/or utility for your target audience. For some, that might mean maintaining a high signal:noise ratio over social media. For others, it’s about crafting high value emails that people love to receive. Maybe it means producing exceptionally high quality blog posts on a regular publishing schedule. Or maybe it’s the combination of all of these.
Brand loyalty comes because you’ve built knowledge of your brand and a positive association with the experiences people have when they interact with you (no matter where/how that might be).

Do you believe you should do earned media 100% and leave paid at the wayside? If not, how would you suggest blending the two?

I’m generally in favor of blending the two. Ignoring paid completely means you miss some of the value that inbound generates. All that brand loyalty and positive associations mean that if you have something relevant to broadcast through paid channels, it will perform dramatically better than it would have otherwise. We’ve had great success with retargeting on this front, for example.


Where do you stand on the earned media vs. paid media debate? Let us know in the comments.

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