The ride sharing company Uber can’t seem to avoid the media these days.  And that’s a good thing — even when headlines are negative or controversial.  The #2 ride sharing brand Lyft  should take notice.

With an expected infusion of $250+ million in new capital, Lyft aims to close the gap on #1 Uber.  I’m hoping they allocate a good chunk of that money to boost its earned media coverage. After all, earned media, both traditional and social, is the most influential media channel for generating awareness and moving customers through their purchase journey.

So where is Lyft these days in the earned media landscape?  The brand generated 1.3 million mentions this month (Jan. 1-31, 2015).  Actually, 1,397,598 to be exact.  Is that a lot? Compared with everything else being discussed in traditional and social earned media, those mentions translate into a media rating of 69.  In comparison, Uber generated a media rating of 93 in the same reporting period. (The media rating is always between 0 and 100.) Quite a difference.  In fact, Uber blew through 69 media rating points since November 2013 on its way to a current high of 93 — a testament to their disruptive, city-by-city business model and earned media strategy.

Remember, earned media, both traditional and social, is the most influential channel for putting potential ride-sharing customers in either an Uber or a Lyft car.

For comparison, here’s Uber’s media rating profile.  A new high this month at 93, up +1 point over the prior month.  The trailing 12-month average, even with the amazing trajectory of the brand, is very high at 86 points.  As I caution users of media analysis data, I wouldn’t focus too much on sentiment.  It’s part of the story.  But the 10 million media mentions and 117 cumulative mentions over the prior 12-month period is driving the brand’s media awareness, and ultimately service adoption in the 250 cities in which it operates.

There’s also a media momentum shift under way between the two brands, with Uber experiencing a slight increase (+4%) versus Lyft (-11%).  When you combine the short and long-term media performance of the two leaders and consider recent momentum changes, you can see why Lyft needs to spend on cultivating media attention.

Here’ a comparative view of both brands – short (horizontal dimension) and long-term (vertical dimension) media growth values.  Uber is Gaining on the overall category while Lyft is beginning to falter.

Neither brand is at some amazing media tipping point.  But Uber is leveraging earned media better then its peers and Lyft has an opportunity to continue building its strong media rating position with the additional capital it is raising. Does it need to be as controversial as Uber?  I’ll leave that question to Lyft’s Director of Communications, Erin Simpson.