I saw an advertisement recently that really gave me pause. Not necessarily because it was captivating or because I agreed with it – in fact, it was because I didn’t agree with it at all. It said, very simply, “Earned Media is Back in the Driver’s Seat.”
I was mystified because, if I’m being honest, I don’t think it ever left.
We live in an age where social media are all around us. As communications professionals, we literally have more tools available to us right now than at any point in the history of our industry. We can instantly reach out to someone if we want to on a small device that they carry around with them all day that is literally more powerful than the shuttle that took men to the moon in the 1960s.
Despite all this, I believe that Earned Media is and will always be essential to good PR for a number of core reasons.
Earned Media Matters
To understand why earned media is and will always be essential, you need to start with it as a concept. Earned media is defined as anything that isn’t paid media advertising or branding – namely, publicity gained through some type of promotional effort.
What does that sound like to you?
To me, it sounds like mentions on Facebook. It sounds like retweets on Twitter. It sounds like reviews on sites like Yelp, or reposts from one blog to another. The world of public relations is constantly evolving and in 2017, this is (part) of the shape that earned media takes. But how far would you get with your branding and traffic efforts if you didn’t cultivate your audience on Facebook or Twitter? Probably not very far, which is PRECISELY why Earned Media is still critical to your overall mission.
It’s About the Connection
At its core, PR is all about connecting with your target audience in a meaningful way. According to a study that was reported on by Conductor.com, earned media is STILL the most trusted and influential source of commercial information available today. It also lets you speak the same language as your audience, as 70% of people said that they wanted to learn about products through content instead of traditional advertisements according to Inc.
In an era where nearly 70 million people in the United States used ad blockers online in 2016, the message they’re sending is clear. You can’t demand someone’s attention anymore – you have to earn it.
In the End
Paid social and digital tools are undeniably powerful but in our industry, the key is to use them TOGETHER with Earned Media for the best possible results. You need to be preparing content for the massive number of media outlets that we can now contribute to. Always work your key messages through social media platforms, but combine those efforts with your Earned Media output. This isn’t an “either/or? situation at all, despite the fact that certain people seem to want to make it one. I believe that if you can truly pull this off on a base level, you’ll generate the types of results you’ve never seen before.
If you’re not preparing your own content for social media either because you don’t have the time or you don’t think you can generate what you need, a public relations professional can handle this for you. They can turn your content into the type of story that represents you in an organic way They can write for you and publish you into the growing number of media outlets that are regularly accepting vendor contributions. Public relations professionals can find the PERFECT outlet that matches up with your brand, thereby generating more leverage in the process.