Many people are unsure what earned media and how PR firms make it happen. To help clarify, we probably should discuss what a PR firm is not.
For instance, we do not buy advertising space, create billboards, put together TV and radio commercials, or create Internet banners. Nor do we make up catchy phrases for clients and look for advertising placements in general.
This is known as “earned media” and because the client does not have to pay for the space – as if it were an advertisement – it is often called “free media.”
On the other hand, those advertisements, TV and radio commercials and the like mentioned earlier are known as “paid media.” Someone or some organization is paying for those spots.
This difference between earned media and paid media also reveals the power, we could even call it the magic of PR.
You see, we all know when we see an advertisement in print, online, or on any other venue, someone paid for it. However, when an end-customer actually stops and reads a quality, well- written article in a major trade publication – one likely written by a PR professional – they can better understand what a product or service does and how it might help them, for instance, operate their facilities in a more efficient manner.
The Public Relations Society of America points out the role of the PR agency in “researching, conducting and evaluating, on a continuing basis, programs of action and communication to achieve the informed public understanding necessary to the success of an organization’s aims.”
Essentially, this means putting together different types of content that help promote a client’s products or services such as:
- Training and educational articles or blogs on the client’s website
Writing articles that appear in major trade publications read by the client’s end-customers.
Pitching article ideas to editors or providing them with information that may help promote the client’s products or services
Social media work
- Creating videos and infographics
- Marketing newsletters
- Dealing with a crisis situation.
So, now that we are clear on what PR is and is not, when should you hire a PR firm? If releasing a new product or service, it is best to introduce the product with advertising. Over time, cut back on advertising and ramp up the PR program. Many people will hear about a product, but will not necessarily purchase it until they start reading articles and news stories about it.
How long should you expect two work with a PR firm? Many organizations hire a firm just for a specific promotion for a set number of weeks or months. Similarly, if there is a crisis, the firm may be called into action for a few months.
However, many customers believe PR is an ongoing marketing activity. They want to keep seeing that earned media, articles and information written about their products and services, on an ongoing basis and the reality is, the longer a PR program is going, the more “buzz” it generates