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How much "paid media" is a part of your earned media strategy?

An earned media strategy unlike paid media is all about relationships and patience for many reasons. First, for new PR professionals it takes time to build relationships with the right journalists. This could take weeks, months or even years. Once the relationship is built, the process starts to pitch them new stories and ideas. Once the journalist decides to write a story, he or she then has to take the time to put pen to paper and write it.

With paid media, you can turn it on and off with the click of a button.

I get it though, earned media is supposed to be “earned” but consumer attention today is at a premium. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “Oh, I’m on the PR team. We don’t do paid PR or even have paid PR budgets. Besides, that’s marketing’s job.”

This is frustrating on many levels. But it’s mainly the opportunity cost of not thinking outside the traditional “I only do earned media” PR box.

I’m not talking about hiring a media agency and spending thousands of dollars a month with programmatic media buying. That is marketing’s job.

The truth is, having a paid PR budget is now table stakes. All it takes is making smart, strategic and highly targeted paid media buys that ensures your data driven content is reaching the right audience, at the right time and in the right channel. Not ads, but stories … earned coverage, owned content, thought leadership and employee content.

True, earned media strategy unlike paid media is “earned”. But paid media has just as much impact.

The important thing to remember about paid media is that it is predictable. Unlike earned media where you cannot control the outcome, with paid media you know exactly what you will receive based on what you were spending.

That’s why paid PR budgets are critical so that teams can amplify earned coverage using paid search, paid social, and even display advertising if it makes sense. Repetitive, consistent, and surround sound storytelling is critical to achieving and maintaining brand relevance.

At least I think so. Agree, disagree? If you don’t agree I would love to understand why you don’t think paid media should be a significant part of an earned media strategy. And please don’t bring up earned media value. It’s irrelevant.


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