When I got my very first job in PR I was generally counseled that “pay for play” was a dirty phrase. I remember, with a level of fondness, filliping through Bacon’s books to build media lists and working so hard for those “earned” print and TV hits. Online existed but our clients saw little to no value in an Internet-only review back then.
Fast forward to today and the lines are increasingly blurred. I am building budgets with significant line items for sponsored blogger content programs, staffing paid segments, and I haven’t been in a social media presentation in at least a year where PowerPoint slides detailing the importance of strong, organic content aren’t followed by slides with a social media advertising strategy.
While it may still ring true that having a print ad in a local business journal won’t guarantee you ink, it’s no secret media partnerships can aid in cutting through the newsroom clutter. Which is why the Mashable headline, “Consumers still trust traditional media ads more than online ads,” caught my eye this week. As modern PR professionals we can no longer stick our head in the sand when it comes to advertising strategies. Your agency may not specialize in media buying, but you would be remiss to decline a seat at the strategic table. For example, shifting dollars to outdoor advertising from direct mail may generate stronger content for a social media campaign based on outdoor creative and placement. A TV buy could help influence being able to secure a live shot at an event or cross-promotional social media collaboration.
Separation of church and state in 2014 will continue to evolve with many shades of grey. I believe that smart communications professionals will think outside of the earned media box and work hand-in-hand with the “other side” to achieve greater visibility and credibility for their clients.
Alexis is a Senior Communications Director who grows increasingly skeptical of earned versus paid media every time she sees a major brand featured in a three minute segment on a national morning show.