Earning Media: How To Dance The Dance Of Publicity

The PR community talks constantly about the concept of earned media. It’s our bread and butter, and we are always ready with an explanation as to how it differs from marketing or advertising, otherwise known as ‘paid media’. Earned media is the result of strategic thinking to bring important news to the forefront. Information earns the title when external parties, namely journalists and the media, have deemed it a worthy offering to bring to the public’s attention.

Sometimes, however, we get caught up in the message or product we are trying to sell, and the concept of earned media can get distorted. In the worst cases, earned media becomes a marketing vessel and the only thing that separates it from paid media is the platform and the price tag.
Here are a few things to consider to help keep earned media grounded in its definition.

Earned media needs a powerful message

A powerful message makes a great story. The focus should be less about ‘what’ you are trying to promote with free publicity, but ‘how’ it will affect people. It doesn’t matter how much money you or your company makes, or how important you think you are – if you don’t deliver a message people care about, you end up wasting everyone’s time.

(Of course a big company name or well-known figure adds weight to any story, but you’d be surprised to see how many shallow media releases are out there that essentially say nothing, but were distributed nonetheless because a big company thought their name alone was enough to turn heads.)

This, however, does not mean your message needs to be pandering or fabricated to make people pay attention. Just be honest, but go deeper – who benefits and who suffers from your information? What are some interesting facts surrounding the topic? Which powerful players are involved?

Why does this story need to be told?

Earned media can be spoiled

Earned media is distinguishable from paid media because its essence of honesty and purity. Journalists, in particular, are more likely to run a story if it can be interpreted as an unbiased piece of information beneficial to the public.

An audience is smarter than the cattle some perceive them to be. They can usually tell the difference between when they’re being informed, and when they’re being sold to. Only the very best marketers and writers and blur those lines, and even then, more people are wising up to PR tactics every day.

When crafting content in the hopes it will become earned media, it’s best to avoid certain behaviours like the overuse of adjectives or using a full weapons chest of empty corporate ‘buzz words’ to make simple concepts sound more amazing.

Keep that powerful message in mind, because desperate, empty and promotional prose is easily identifiable and will often lead to content that sours your message and your brand.

Earning media requires patience

Free press as a result of one great story is only a small part of what makes earned media so effective. Earned media is also the right to free publicity as a result of a long-term process of establishing trust and building relationships.

Building an effective media relationship, however, is not as simple as becoming friends with journalists who will, in turn, have your back as a contact no matter what. The journalist could be your child’s godparent, but their job is still on the line if you send them terrible media releases and weak news tips in the name of flimsy self-promotion.

It’s a slow burn. Earned media relies on a strong message and engaging storytelling, but the best results come after a long and consistent period of delivering the best content possible. Over time, you will have built a foundation where publishers will see your name and immediately assume you must have something interesting to say.

Building strong relationships takes patience, strategic thinking and realistic expectations, which are words that describe the very nature of earned media to a tee.


What is Your Brand’s Editorial Mission?

In the digital world every single brand, every single company, is a publisher. If you have a website, you are publisher, if you have a Facebook page, you are a publisher. If you send clients technical guides on how to use your products, you are a publisher.

The key to being a great publisher is a strong, clearly-defined and purpose-driven editorial mission. An editorial mission is the foundation of your content strategy and defines what you’re going to talk about and share as a content creator.

What is ‘editorial’?

The term editorial has traditionally been reserved by newspapers for the section of the paper where the ‘editor’ expresses the publisher’s own views and policies on a current issue. It was always separate from the objective news ‘reporting’ of the paper that was meant to be devoid of the personal opinions of the journalist and their editor. As an example, it has long been a tradition of newspapers to use their editorial pages to endorse their preferred candidate ahead of an election. This decision is meant to be the considered wisdom of the editor or senior editorial team and until recently had the potential to swing undecided voters.

In it’s strictest definition editorial content should not be influenced by outside forces. The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) says there is ‘no advertiser influence’ in the creation of editorial features and in all case’s the editor’s decision about content and tone are ‘final’.

Editorial is simply content that has been developed independent of outside influence, for no other purpose then providing the audience with information, insight and understanding.

However, the incredible growth of content marketing and the digital economy has seen many of these walls heavily eroded with the definition of ‘editorial’ content now encompassing a complex array of goals and influences.

Editorial as marketing

Fairfax’s Domain business unit is one brand that has used editorial to grow traffic and engagement. While the business is a relatively simple online listings business, the fact it is owned by Fairfax has provided the opportunity to use editorial as the spearhead for its marketing strategy.

In an interview last year with CMO magazine Domain’s chief marketing and editorial officer Melina Cruickshank explained how the company bought together data-driven decision making, editorial content, audience-oriented marketing and mobile-first thinking to drive a 92% increase in unique browsers in 18 months.

“We needed to bring together the journalists and audience marketers, create a new division called content and audience, and just go for it. It was a huge risk, and completely different to what everyone else had been doing. But I told him (Domain Group CEO Anthony Catalano) it was all about our journalists and our content. Domain’s strengths are mobile and editorial. People are obsessed with property, and if we can communicate to them in an authentic manner about property and gain their trust, we’re going to grow our reach.”

Editorial Mission

Editorial content is no longer the exclusive purview of pure media companies. Every brand that wants to communicate with customers should have an editorial mission that clearly articulates what they hope to achieve from their content. It should define you as a brand and what you stand for in the eyes of your stakeholders, both internal and external.

At the core of editorial and its value to an audience is the substance and integrity of the opinions that it carries. Having an editorial mission that is simply about the  features of your products and services does not count. Having an opinion about the externalities and influences that affect your customers is one of the easiest ways to supercharge your content strategy.

When developing our MBA News Australia website a few years ago we thought long and hard about our editorial mission. We needed to speak to both our audience (potential MBA students) and our customers (the business schools and universities that want to reach potential students). We needed a mission that guided every content decision we made. Ultimately we came up wth three guiding editorial principles:

  • Inform – provide the latest news, views and information about the courses available to people considering embarking on an MBA.
  • Educate – we want to help our readers understand the many options available to them for postgraduate business education
  • Advocate – be a champion for MBAs and the pursuit of management excellence.

Staying true to this mission has seen the site establish a reputation with both readers and advertisers as the first-stop for information about studying for an MBA in Australia.

Taking the time to define what your content means to your audience via an editorial mission is the first step in developing an effective content strategy. So get to it.


Silver Chef Delivers Strong Second Half As FY17 Profit Tops $20 Million


  • Net profit after tax of $20.2 million – strong second half performance of $15.6 million and includes one-off write-off for fraud of $2.3 million
  • Consistent strong performance from the Hospitality business with the rental asset base# up 34% on 30 June 2016
  • Strong growth in the New Zealand and Canadian asset bases
  • Improved second half credit performance from GoGetta
  • GoGetta business continues to be refined with focus on improving return on capital through customer quality measures
  • Dividend payout ratio increased to 68.7% of full year earnings
  • Implementation of securitisation funding facility on target
  • Earnings outlook for FY18 in the range of $24 million to $26 million

Leading equipment financier Silver Chef Limited (“Silver Chef” ASX: SIV) has today reported net profit after tax of $20.2 million for the year ending 30 June 2017.

As expected, the Group delivered strong second half financial performance as a result of improvement in GoGetta rental yield, better average credit quality and continued growth of the Hospitality business in international markets.

These improvements set up the business for strong growth in future periods. The full year result includes a significant one-off expense of $2.3M after income tax in respect of asset losses associated with the fraud event announced to the market on 17 November 2016.

The small miss against the lower end of the earnings guidance range was a consequence of deliberate slowing of growth in the GoGetta rental asset base in the second half of FY17 and additional arrears provisioning which was determined as part of the year end accounts review process.

Part of that difference arose from the Company’s decision to book additional provisioning against an individual customer arrears position where our recovery prospects deteriorated post year end.

The Board has declared a fully franked dividend of 25.1 cents per share.

In conjunction with the first half dividend of 12.9 cents per share, total dividends for the financial year are 38.0 cents per share, maintaining the Company’s payout ratio at 68.7% of earnings per share.

Chief Executive Officer Damien Guivarra said: “FY17 has been a challenging year for the Group, with rapid growth in the GoGetta business creating new demands in the areas of credit control, arrears administration and asset management. The Company has made significant improvements in these areas over the course of the year and it is confident that they will deliver improved financial returns in the GoGetta business moving forward. Pleasingly, the Hospitality business performed strongly again during the year. The Canadian market remains an attractive opportunity that will support the Company’s ongoing growth.”

Hospitality – Australia and New Zealand

The Hospitality business in Australia and New Zealand performed well during the year, with growth in its rental asset base of 26% against the previous corresponding period. The coffee and franchise channels made strong financial contributions during the period. The New Zealand business in particular contributed strongly, with 49% growth in its rental asset base against the previous corresponding period resulting in a significantly improved contribution to group earnings. The average credit quality of the Hospitality portfolio remains consistent with historical trends and reflects a relatively low level of annualised credit losses in the target range of 2.5% to 3.5% of revenue.

Hospitality – Canada

The Canadian Hospitality business achieved the strong origination and asset base growth targets planned for the year. The business delivered $18.6 million in originations for the year ended 30 June 2017, up 48% on the previous corresponding period. Canada ends the year with a rental asset base of $28.7 million at cost, up 81% on the cost base at 30 June 2016. There are now 40 employees providing a strong platform for future growth. Due to the relative immaturity of the Canadian portfolio, it is difficult to make a firm prediction as to the average credit quality of that growing portfolio, however early indications are that it will perform on a similar basis to that observed in Australia and New Zealand.


During the year, the Company improved its credit evaluation procedures, redesigned its approach to managing the recovery of outstanding arrears and commenced a project to review its processes for reconditioning and remarketing assets that are returned after the initial twelve-month rental period.

As predicted, the GoGetta brand delivered an improved financial result in the second half of FY17. Growth in the GoGetta rental asset base was moderated as a result of implementing tightened credit controls. Average credit quality has improved as indicated by the deceleration in the rate of arrears growth.

Critical to improving credit quality and halting arrears deterioration was the disaccreditation of non-performing partners (both finance brokers and equipment vendors) who were not aligned with the Group’s deal quality and customer credit standards.

While slowing in the GoGetta growth rate was a natural by-product of the Company’s tightening credit standards, this was further enhanced by management actions taken in response to the fraud event announced on 17 November 2016.

The Company previously advised that in the short term it expected bad debt and impairment charges recognised in the GoGetta business to be higher than historical group averages as management worked through contracts (primarily in the light commercial channel) which were written before significant tightening of credit policiesin March 2016.

After ongoing evaluation, the Company concluded that a number of sub categories of customers and asset classes in the broader light commercial channel were not performing in line with our credit quality criteria. The Company has discontinued lending into those channels with the exception of vehicles which are specifically designed for commercial purposes (such as vans and utilities).

The credit performance of the remaining classes in the light commercial channel are subject to ongoing review to ensure they are generating the appropriate returns and meet acceptable standards of credit performance moving forward.

Capital Management

The Company’s total assets at 30 June 2017 are $540.2 million, with net gearing at 65%. The Company extended its senior syndicated banking facility by $100 million to a total of $400 million of which there was $81 million of headroom at year end. This provides the Company with significant funding headroom as it transitions to a securitised funding model in FY18.

The Company is now in advanced stages of documentation and senior syndicate approval for the implementation of a $200 million securitisation warehouse facility. All parties are working toward execution of relevant documentation.

Successful performance of the securitisation structure will see a significant reduction to senior debt gearing levels during FY18 and a lower level of reliance on new equity to finance the Company’s growth targets over the coming years.

The facility permits funding of new originations of Silver Chef and GoGetta rental contracts, and will also be used to purchase the Company’s existing book of finance leases in the first instance, allowing a significant reduction to senior debt levels on first draw. Once implemented, the securitisation facility will enable the business to finance eligible contract originations to an initial maximum gearing of 80% on asset cost on a limited recourse basis.

Final pricing for the securitisation warehouse structure will be established closer to financial close on the transaction.

A share placement was made on 16 September 2016 to existing and new shareholders, that raised an additional $7.5 million of equity capital. An entitlement offer announced on 21 March 2017 raised a further $21 million of equity capital. Funds from these placements were used to fund growth in the Company’s rental asset base, and to maintain gearing at a conservative level as the Company transitions to securitisation funding.

The Company will continue to apply its historical approach to the management of the Company’s capital base, seeking to diversify its funding sources with a range of features and maturities to manage refinancing risk and interest rate risk. The delivery of the securitisation facility in FY18 is an important evolution of the Group’s capital management strategy. Appropriate senior secured facilities and other forms of debt and equity capital will be required to ensure continuity of funding for both domestic and international expansion.

People and Culture

Damien Guivarra transitioned to the role of Chief Executive Officer effective from 3 November 2016. On that date, Allan English, founder and former Executive Chairman, returned to the role of Non-Executive Chairman.

Mr Guivarra has played an integral role in the growth of the Company over the last ten years across a number of sales and operational management roles.

The Company remains committed to the ongoing development of its people, as part of its wider strategy as a certified B Corporation. Silver Chef is focused on running its business under a values driven framework with a genuine desire to make a wider contribution in the world. During FY17, we formalised strategies for better supporting our staff and our customers, reducing our environmental impact and creating more meaningful engagement with wider community initiatives through the establishment of the Silver Chef Foundation.


The Company continues to develop a new application management system with a second major phase of improvements commencing during the year. The system will generate considerable efficiencies by reducing application processing times and allowing information to be imported directly from external equipment dealer and finance broker platforms. It will also allow for credit pre-approvals for certain customers to be provided instantly.


The Board has declared a fully franked dividend of 25.1 cents per share. The record date for the dividend will be 8 September 2017 and the payment date will be 2 October 2017. In conjunction with the first half dividend of 12.9 cents per share, total dividends for the financial year are 38.0 cents per share, making the Company’s payout ratio 68.7% of earnings per share.


Management believes that the long-term outlook for domestic growth for both the Silver Chef and GoGetta brands remains positive. Expansion in Canada will continue and strong growth is forecast in its rental asset base again in FY18.

In the short term, improvement to yield and average credit quality in GoGetta will create a continued improvement to both return on capital and underlying accounting earnings.

The Company is conscious that there are ongoing challenges associated with managing the existing portfolio of GoGetta contracts. As previously noted, this portfolio is comprised of a mixture of credit qualities that improved significantly after March 2016. The portion of the Company’s asset base in the GoGetta business which is underperforming from a credit perspective is being actively managed with a view to contracts either being paid out or assets being returned and re-deployed as a matter of priority.

However, due to the volume of assets subject to this exercise, particularly in the light commercial channel, there is a significant cost burden associated with managing accelerated repossessions and redeployment of that capital. The financial impact of this activity is difficult to estimate, as it is dependent on the timing and condition of assets which are returned.

While the company typically targets growth in the range of 10 to 20%, in light of the above, the forecast for FY18 is in the range of 5% to 15%. As such, the Company expects full year after tax earnings for FY18 in the range of $24 million to $26 million.

# Asset base includes rental assets at written down value and lease receivables at amortised cost

ENDS: Media enquiries to Ben Ready on 0415 743 838.