Can the power of earned media decide the next president of the United States?

Steve West

*Cue a sigh of relief* The 2016 Presidential Election is finally winding down. With just under 8 weeks to go, recent polls show the two candidates are currently neck and neck. While Hillary Clinton continues to hold a slight lead, Donald Trump cannot be underestimated.

This year’s election has been a media circus, and that’s putting it lightly. Practically everyone’s talking about it given the nature of the two candidates on the ticket. One – the very first female presidential nominee, and the other – a famous businessman and former reality television personality. There seems to be a story worth telling daily, offering journalists and news outlets enough to easily fill a 24-hour news cycle. The slew of indiscretions coming from both the Clinton and Trump camps provide the perfect fodder for comedians and entertainers. And who hasn’t argued with an uncle during a family meal over whether America is already great?

Since everyone is talking about it, we figured why not join the fray and keep a close eye on things through November 8th. Here at iQ media, we’re all about evaluating the power of earned media vs paid, and it’s been incredible to follow each candidate’s strategies when it comes to leveraging both in this election.

While paid media through television advertising has been the standard channel for candidates to reach their constituents, it’s expensive, and Trump’s campaign has struggled to raise money. However, he has never let that impede his media strategy. He’s put a new spin on things by developing a firm reliance on social and earned media to gather and maintain support, which has proven unbelievably effective. He demolished his primary competition by receiving the most votes in any Republican nominating contest in history. And as we journey through the general election, his ability to earn media perseveres, and he remains a strong contender as a result.

But with earned media inevitably comes journalistic bias. Obviously, the major cable news networks tend to lean right or left, but journalists have been fighting the good fight to limit preferential opinion and reporting toward either candidate. And whether you believe they are accomplishing this feat, one thing is certain – keeping both candidates on an equal playing field has amplified earned media presence.

Yes, paid media has great influence over voter behavior, but the power of earned media has potential to decide the next president. Take a look at our 2016 Election Media Strategy Matchup, a comparative summary of the Clinton and Trump campaigns’ paid media spend and earned media exposure and how each has impacted this election.

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