B2B PR Tips: How to Leverage Earned, Owned, Paid, and Shared Media for Lead Generation

business man reading the newspaper
business man reading the newspaper

You’re always looking for positive ways to promote your B2B company. In your search, you’ve likely come across the following terms: earned media, owned media, shared media, and paid media. Whether you realize it or not, chances are you’re using at least one of these top PR strategies.

However, if you’re a bit fuzzy on what these terms actually mean, or if you just need a refresher course, read on — it’s coming your way.

In this post, we will:

  1. Define Earned, Owned, Shared and Paid media
  2. Discuss how to leverage each of them 
  3. Give you some B2B PR tips on how to combine all four methods to generate leads
  4. Define the Top 8 tips to bring big ideas to your B2B PR strategy. 

Earned Media

“A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

In a nutshell, earned media is:

Publicity gained from word of mouth, online reviews, and blogger, press, and influencer relations. It’s a third-party endorsement of your brand.

How to Leverage Earned Media:

We’ll start with earned media because it can be one of the trickiest to master. The reason is that you have less control over this type of media. You can’t simply ask someone to plug your product or service. As the name suggests, you must earn it.

How can you do this without sounding, well… sleazy, clingy, desperate?

Simply put, you need to to be a friend to get a friend.

If you want to get noticed by bloggers who will promote your brand, start by reaching out to those whose work you truly admire. These are the ones that whose email updates make it past your trash file. The ones who get you thinking about your industry and who inspire you.

Reach out to these bloggers via social media and leave comments on their posts.

Next, join HARO (help a reporter out). This service notifies you when a reporter is looking for an industry expert to quote in a piece.

Lastly, make it easy for others to like you by responding graciously on social media sites, leaving positive LinkedIn endorsements for those you’ve collaborated with on projects, and promoting thought leaders on social media.

Owned Media

Owned media is content that you have created and that you own. Examples of owned media include:

Blog posts, whitepapers, videos, podcasts, case studies, ebooks, and your website.

How to Leverage Owned Media:

Owned media is your PR paradise. You have complete control over how to create and use each piece of content you create. However, there has to be a method to your madness.

“Think like a publisher, not a marketer.” – David Meerman Scott, marketing and leadership speaker

Here are a few tips to get your owned media going in the right direction:

  • Create a purpose for each piece of content. Are you trying to get new leads? Nurture existing leads? Increase brand awareness?
  • Include plenty of visual content, such as videos, images, GIFs, infographics. Mix it up a bit.
  • Write for both search engines and people. When you write a headline, ask yourself if you would click on it. Better yet, ask someone else.
  • Attach analytics to each piece of content in order to gauge interest in the topic you’re promoting.

Shared Media

Shared media, also known as social media, has become one of the most popular and cost effective PR platforms. It includes:

Postings to social sharing sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

How to Leverage Shared Media:

With new changes to social platforms coming in almost daily, it can be hard to keep up. However, there are a few good rules of thumb that remain unchanged.

This one isn’t too difficult to figure out! However, it has changed over the years. While you might think of paid media as print, TV, or radio advertising, it has evolved into something much more digital and direct.

Today, effective means of paid media include:

  • Native advertising
  • Social media campaigns
  • Google Adwords
  • Retargeting

Paid media is the one method many don’t want to acknowledge. Perhaps it’s because they see so many other effective PR methods that are virtually free.

However, paid media is equally important. One reason for this is because paid media is a better bet when searching for new buyers that never heard of your brand.

Paid social media campaigns for example can reach those who are interested in your industry, not just in your personal brand. These prospects may not be searching for you online, but now Facebook has made them aware of your presence without their ever navigating off the same page they use to communicate with loved ones.

Likewise, paying to have your blog posts distributed via native advertising allows your expertise to reach a wide audience. Learn more about how that works in my recent blog post on native advertising.

Each PR method can certainly be used as a stand alone product. However, they really shine when combined into a single effort. Let’s take a look at how that might work.

Let’s start with a great piece of owned media, say a blog post. In a perfect world, this blog post would attract your best leads and prospects all on its own. However, the truth is that it’s unlikely to be noticed unless you put a little effort into its promotion.

Next, you’ll want to promote the post on social, or shared, media. This isn’t a one-time deal, either. Rather, you need to promote the post over the following days, weeks, and even months in order for it to gain decent traction.

Once you see that your piece of content has been well-received, you’ll know that you’ve hit a hot topic. You can then begin to promote it using paid media, in the form of Twitter or Facebook campaigns.

Carefully gaining traction in this way adds to your credibility as a thought leader in your industry. It’s then that you’ll start to see your earned media come through for you.

Top 8 Tips to Bring Big Ideas to Your B2B PR

1. Work Backwards from a Clear End Goal

Start with your end vision. What would you like to accomplish as a company? A great way to bring an idea to life is by starting with the end-product. A key component to your vision might be to write down that dream headline that you would like to see when your vision comes to fruition.

For instance, would you like to get press coverage for your involvement in charity? Then start big. Imagine the successful headline that will put you on the front page. It could be something like, “Local B2B Firm Meets Goal of Feeding 1,000 Hungry Families.”

Have you already thought of your dream headline? Once you have it, work back from there. Set smaller, more manageable goals that will help you reach that big headline. You’ll find it easier to get more people on board and involved when you have a set end-goal to pursue.

2. Invite Influencers to Contribute to Your Content

Influencers are a big deal in niche industries, and can amplify your content’s reach. While it may be difficult to get an influencer on-board for a full guest post, it’s a much easier task to get a blurb or pro tip from an influencer that you can then leverage within your content.


Imagine the power behind such blog posts as,

"15 Pro Tips From the Security Industry’s Leading Experts" or "[Influencer’s name] Weighs in on the Biggest Problem Facing the Security Industry."

Once you have this content locked down, you can leverage your influencer involvement to promote it. Build anticipation for the content by talking it up on social media before it is released. Once it’s out, tag the influencers involved on social media so that they can share it with their audience. Share it several times to ensure that the maximum amount of people get a chance to read it.

3. Make Your Content Recyclable and Magnetic

Your content shouldn’t have an end-date. Once you hit publish, there’s plenty you can do to extend its usefulness. For example, make it easily shareable. Create click to tweet links of several important snippets of your content that people can easily share on Twitter. Create social media images with influential parts of your content that others in your industry will be interested in sharing.

4. Find Content That’s Already Popular…and Make It Better

It can sometimes feel like your competitors have all the successful content. But you can use this to your advantage. Use programs like BuzzSumo and SEMrush to find what content is currently blowing up within your industry. Then take that piece of content and give it an all-star upgrade. Amplify its value with a more modern design, in-depth content, and even additional pro tips.

Once you have a superior piece of content, it’s time to distribute it like crazy. Use social media and email marketing to get as many eyes on it as possible.

And don’t forget to use this content to shine a light on new content. Include a link to just-published content within your popular post. Think of it as the virtual equivalent of hanging out with the popular kids. The goal is that some of that fairy dust will end up on the new content.

5. Focus on Big Pieces of Content

One large, high-quality piece of content is going to outperform 10 other lower quality pieces of content put together. To accomplish this, your content creation should begin with a solid content strategy that aims at truly high-quality content, as well as promotion of that content. In-depth content such as eBooks and guides may take more time to put together, but in the end, will lead to increased credibility and owned media potential.

6. Leverage Special Content for Visitors Who Share

Sharing isn’t just for kids. When readers share your content on their social networks, this is PR gold. But how do you convince readers to share?

Instead of your traditional gated content that requires the user to input his or her contact information, why not make special content downloadable in exchange for a social share? People get the free e-book (or video, or case study) once they share their download announcement on social media. This gives them the content they want, and boosts the recognition of your brand at the same time—a clear win-win situation.

7. Test the Waters for Big Events

Events are a key way to establish yourself as a thought leader and industry authority. But this is sometimes easier said than done — it can be overwhelming to jump feet first into a large-scale event. Make it easier on yourself by testing the waters first with a smaller event.

It doesn’t have to be a large, fancy affair. Make it more intimate and less structured. Invite a wide range of people to participate — perhaps include an industry analyst, someone from the media, a business customer, and an author, to speak on a current industry topic or trend. This kind of environment can foster many thought leadership quality discussions that you will have been responsible for creating.

Then, if all goes well, you can start planning a larger-scale event that will no doubt garner more attention.

8. Become Part of a Niche Community

While it’s great to participate in larger industry communities, don’t ignore the power that the smaller niche communities (such as on LinkedIn) hold for your content promotion. Oftentimes, participating in smaller, niche communities can give you more of a chance to engage with and provide value to others in your industry.

Participation in these communities allows you to establish yourself as an industry expert, create brand awareness, and share your valuable content. There’s even a chance that your content may be chosen for syndication by other blogs and publications in your niche. In short, these smaller communities are a great stepping stone on your way to bigger, thought leadership opportunities.

Key Points to Remember in Your B2B PR

  • Include influencer input in small ways to attract more attention from a wider audience.
  • Use popular content from competitors to create even better, more in-depth content.
  • Prepare yourself for hosting a large event by starting with a small, intimate one.
  • Get involved in smaller, niche communities where you will have more opportunities to engage and be heard.

Just because you are a small B2B business doesn’t mean that your B2B PR ideas have to follow suit. Use these 8 B2B PR tactics to start thinking big and you’ll amplify your content’s influence and achieve thought leadership success.