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Earned Promotion

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Defining owned promotion

Earned promotion is content marketing via channels that don’t necessarily belong to your brand or business, but are owned by third parties. Marketing through these channels allows you to access alternative audiences that may not be aware of, or engage with your business, on a day-to-day basis.


Here are some examples of channels where earned promotion can exist:

  • Online news sites. This involves selling in stories or content that you’ve produced for your brand to appropriate online news sites, to generate awareness and exposure.
  • Blogger/influencer outreach. This involves sharing your content with a blogger or influencer who is interested in exactly the same things that your piece of content addresses. For example, if you create and share content on “New Ways To Cook Potatoes” with a food blogger, that blogger might find your content quite interesting and share it with their friends. By doing this, you can leverage additional reach and scale for your content.
  • User-generated social media. This involves leveraging content that users have produced that is positive towards your business. This can be anything from graphics to photos, or indeed, social media check-ins or reviews with your brand or business. Sharing this positivity will help benefit your brand or business.
  • Affiliate partnerships. In the digital social space, a lot of brands are active in the same arena that you are in. As long as they’re not direct competitors and don’t have any ulterior motives, you can team up with them to access their audiences and let them access yours. For example, a children’s toy company might decide to team up with a local zoo. In this partnership, the company gives away tickets to the zoo and the zoo gives away toys. It’s mutually beneficial, as both have the same intended target audience, and they can access each other’s social media platforms.
  • Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). This is where a stunt or activity has generated such consumer interest that, in the real world, people have taken photographs, written posts, and posted them to their social media platforms. You can then leverage this for further amplification of your individual stunt, to maximize your opportunity. Keep your eyes open for unplanned word-of-mouth marketing opportunities also.

Advantages and limitations

While earned promotion is a fantastic asset to your content marketing plan, it’s important to identify the advantages and limitations of this type of marketing.


Advantages include:

  • Reduced wastage. With earned promotion, you’re leveraging an audience that has bought in to your particular brand communications or message. This audience is hyper-relevant, so there is less wastage when it comes to target audiences.
  • Authenticity. Being able to leverage earned content or earned promotion helps you resonate nicely with audiences, as they regard it as more authentic.
  • Peer recommendation. A peer-to-peer recommendation is a lot stronger than a direct ad. Earned content is positioned as a peer recommendation.


Limitations to earned content promotion include:

  • Less control. It’s very hard to control the message of an earned placement, because you don’t have a huge amount of say over it. You must be prepared for promotion that is not 100% on brand.
  • Responsibility. With earned content, the brand or business owner is seen as responsible for the content, even though they don’t have full control over it. It may require delicate relationship-building and negotiation to get the content edited or changed, if necessary.
  • Credibility. Ultimately, the credibility of your business could be called into question if your earned promotion channels are questionable. If you’re targeting individual platforms or influencers to earn coverage or promotion, make sure you want your brand or business to be associated with them.

Maximizing earned content

Maximizing earned content is a little trickier, as there is less control. But there are some rules that will help:

  • Relevant titles/target channels. Make sure your target publications, influencers, and so on are relevant to your audience and don’t just have high reach.
  • Visually appealing assets. Make sure that the earned platforms have visually appealing assets that are easy to access, whether they be video or well-produced graphics.
  • Easy-to-read layouts. Make sure that your content is easy to read, and isn’t confusing or convoluted. This will make it more shareable.
  • Shareable content. Make sure that your content is sharable in the first place. Asking yourself the question, “Would I share it?” and being able to answer, “Yes,” will help you determine whether your content is worthy of earned promotion from an individual or media platform.
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Seán Earley

Creative Director at Teneo PSG Digital

  • Creative Director at Teneo PSG Digital with five years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Social, and PR Agencies
  • Founding member of Teneo PSG Digital
  • Former Director on the Board of the Irish Internet Association
  • Passionate about creating content that captures audience imaginations and delivers business objectives

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


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