Editiorial or ‘earned media’ vs. advertising

Some of an advertising budget can be much better invested in publicity efforts. For less money, clients can get more column inches, more airtime, more online presence, and more visibility.  In addition,  ‘earned media’, or coverage via media stories about an organization, event or issue, are given much more credibility by the audience (readers/viewers/listeners/users).  How much more credibility is debated, but PR companies usually quote that additional credibility at three to six times the value of advertising for the same amount of space or time.

The chief executive of Institute of Communication Agencies Gillian Graham once argued that weak economic times are the worst time to cut the marketing/advertising/PR budgets:

“It has been proven that those who cut spending in these times will exacerbate their revenue challenges and ultimately, lose share.”

To get massive publicity coverage, you need:

  • a media relations professional / someone who follows a lot of media – a very informed media consumer who:
    • has created and executed many campaigns
    • genuinely believes in the cause, the event or the product that they are pitching
    • ideally has worked as a journalist or producer themselves
  • a kickass current media database, or someone keen on doing the research to create one
  • a ‘hook’: why this story now? why should readers/viewers/listeners care?
  • a high-level (ideally, top) person who:
    • will make significant time available to do media interviews, and will be willing to prioritize last-minute media requests for the length of the campaign push
    • is a ‘good talker’ – articulate, energetic, can speak concisely, uses anecdotes/storytelling, and can translate more complex topics to layperson language
  • someone other than your interviewee, to be the ‘pitch’ person
  • great-quality images, minimum 300 dpi for most newspapers
  • targeting, targeting, targeting:  to devote the biggest chunk of time to crafting individual media pitches (the more of the journalist’s work you do for them, the more likely they will see the possible story in it and bite)
  • follow-up

In tough economic times, directing money to free editorial via publicity is the route to go.

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