Earned media versus advertising: There’s room for both

It’s a century-old adage: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”  – Department store mogul John Wanamaker

Advertising is, indeed, costly. Even so, it remains the bedrock for most marketers because they can control virtually every aspect of the advertising message.

So, what other marketing alternatives do you have to reach your potential customers?

The answer, of course, is publicity – the cornerstone of public relations. Publicity is considerably more affordable and, when it hits a home run, it’s worth its weight in gold. The only downside is that publicity messaging is considerably less controlled and not entirely predictable.

The myth of free media

One of the myths about publicity is that it is “free media.”

Publicity is not free. Publicity is earned media. And one must work hard to earn publicity coverage. To clarify, earned media is any material written about you or your business that you haven’t paid for or created yourself.

Although earned media is always published or presented by a third party, there are ways marketers can position themselves for this type of media coverage. That’s where public relations firms or communications agencies like Wellons Communications come into the picture. We create content for placement and seek out opportunities for coverage for our clients.

Media have an insatiable appetite for content

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

Like the lions and gazelles in this famous quote, media must wake up every day in search of new content.

To find new content, media (particularly news outlets with small staffs) depend on pr consultancies to feed them information that might be of value to their particular audience. Media depend on their staff to ferret out new and different information and then package it into a way that will hold on to their readers, watchers and listeners.

Orlando public relations firms like ours then provide a genuine service to media outlets. We create content and use individualized “pitches” to serve it up in a way that makes sense for each media outlet. If information has a broader consumer message or industry-wide message, we tailor it so it can be incorporated into an individual outlet’s particular editorial liking.

Earned media is changing rapidly

Once upon a time, publicity (i.e. earned media) meant placement of an article in the local newspaper, a magazine article or a TV or radio appearance.

In the digital age, there are now plenty of new opportunities for placement. Online media has certainly earned its seat at the table as an important outlet for news and information.

Publicity now also comes in the form of a customer’s tweet about “the best customer service ever!”, which is amplified by likes and retweets. It’s also a horrible Yelp review about how a different customer had “the worst service” from that very same business. And, it’s your industry blogger’s “Top 10 Businesses of The Year” article that was viewed and shared by thousands of people after you launched an important new feature about your product.

How we help you generate earned media

Earned media coverage is one of the prime services we provide our clients.

We create entire publicity packages…. not just press releases, but integrated public relations campaigns that blend your key messages into packages that bring your story to life.

We package together words with visuals. We then distribute those packages to outlets that might have use for them and, in many cases, employ individual messages that explain how your story will be of interest to their audiences.

For media who simply don’t have the time or staff to seek out this kind of information, we make it as easy as possible for them to project your message. Or use your message as an example of whatever else they might be saying.

Disciplined message crafting generates earned media

At Wellons Communications, we follow a four-step process to maximize earned media coverage for our clients:

  1. We create or identify your stories
  2. We package your stories (i.e. words and visuals)
  3. We distribute your stories to qualified media
  4. We follow up to amplify the stories you want to tell

We look for story opportunities that you may not immediately recognize. We keep in close touch with your key media sources to understand what kind of content they’re seeking. We work within media deadlines. We serve as a kind of unofficial staffer for media, helping them obtain information they can use to present to their audiences.

If you are seeking to expand your marketing beyond advertising or complement your already existing ad program, think of Wellons Communications. We’re willing and ready to help you augment and supercharge your already-existing marketing program. Email will@wellonscommunications.com or call 407-462-2718.