Becoming a Household Name: The Power of Earned Media

As public relations practitioners, we’re constantly explaining the value of earned media to our clients. In a world where commercials, sponsorships, advertorials, boosted posts and paid search dominates marketing budgets, earned media is an influential and cost-effective way to not only build recognition, but effectively tell your story and win over new fans or brand ambassadors.

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While paid media is just that – any form of controlled advertisement or promotion with a price tag – “earned media” refers to media exposure gained free of charge. Because we rely on journalists, trusted influencers or well-respected thought leaders to tell stories on our clients’ behalf, it is more credible to the end consumer. Their readers, viewers or listeners trust their judgement to tell them what is newsworthy and relevant.

Don’t believe us? What if we told you there are probably products in your home or services you utilize that are here today because they earned a compelling news article that launched their business into the national spotlight? Or, maybe you first learned about your favorite restaurant, athlete or celebrity from a viral news article or social media post.

Our team collaborated to share some of our favorite earned media case studies below – from shapewear and sports to suitcases and socks.


While paying the bills by selling fax machines door-to-door, Sara Blakely poured her spare hours working on Spanx, her shapewear line. After mailing Oprah a gift box with a hand-written note, the icon chose Spanx as her favorite product of the year, elevating the brand into the wardrobe staple it is today.



When TOMS was first starting out in 2006, a fashion writer for the Los Angeles Times loved the  “One for One” inspiration behind the brand and wrote an article for the front page of the Times’ Calendar section. The day the article launched, TOMS received 2,200 orders leading to another feature in Vogue magazine. By the end of their first summer, TOMS sold 10,000 pairs of shoes out of founder Blake Mycoskie’s apartment.


“Loco for Coco”

In just a few months, U.S. tennis teen prodigy – 15-year-old Coco Gauff – has taken the sports world by storm with her gritty and impressive performances at the grand slams this summer, which began with a first-round victory over Venus Williams at Wimbledon. Touted as the “next big thing” for American tennis, Coco has built a massive fanbase almost overnight with numerous cover stories, a social media following that has grown nearly 6000%, supportive Tweets and endorsements from the likes of Michelle Obama and Kobe Bryant and catchy media taglines describing her fanfare as “Loco for Coco” and “Cocomania.”



Away, the innovative brand taking the luggage market by storm, was founded by former Warby Parker executives Jen Rubio and Steph Korey. They credit the brand’s catapult into the hands of consumers and airport baggage claims across the world to this 2015 Vogue article and their ability to leverage online influencers, which allowed the brand to gain buzz before the full product line was even launched.


Slutty Vegan

Since its Atlanta opening in 2018, the plant-based burger restaurant has expanded to three locations and has exploded in popularity thanks to the brand’s social media savvy team, celebrity following and national media coverage. Diners and celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Tyler Perry take to social media to document finally being “sluttified” after taking their first bite and countless articles including Forbes, The New York Times and CNN have shared Pinky Cole’s trailblazing story and how Slutty Vegan is about more than just burgers, but about creating a community.


Little River Sock Mill

By sharing the compelling story behind a small Alabama town that used to be known as the sock capital of the world, Gina Locklear landed her organic sock brand on the cover of The New York Time’s Style section nearly selling out of all her available online inventory overnight and dubbing Gina as Alabama’s “Sock Queen.”

Our PUBLISHED by Peritus takeaway is this:

Earned media can do so much more than sell shapewear, sports, suitcases or socks – it can generate traffic, change perceptions, build a following and generate genuine connections. The examples above are living proof.

If you have a compelling story to share about your brand, company or product, layer earned media into your marketing strategy. It doesn’t even need to be as glamorous as Oprah or The New York Times – local media, industry trades and niche media can help move the needle by reaching your target audiences where they are.