To be predictably successful in generating earned media requires high quality content and effective distribution – a critical mass audience has to be reached quickly to kick-start discussion and sharing. Earned media does have some value in driving sales but has a stronger role in building fame, engagement and insight for future campaign innovation.


Earned media is what consumers do on behalf of a brand. This would cover word-of-mouth, advocacy, and social media activity that drives 'retweets' on Twitter, 'likes' on Facebook and other sharing. It can exist on- or offline although for ease of measurement most studies focus on digital earned media.

Key insights

1. Effective campaigns increasingly have PR ‘baked-in’ to generate earned media

Analysis of the top effectiveness campaigns in this year’s WARC 100 reveals an increasing use of PR in their channel strategies, reflecting the rise of creative ideas built to stand out and gain press coverage and other earned media. Several ideas at the top of the ranking centre on a highly PR-able stunt or concept, like the Transport Accident Association’s ‘Graham’, that can generate content across channels and media.