The Demise of Earned Media

The Public Relations industry has been built upon a certain balance between their clients and journalists. Clients want publicity in the media and journalists who need to fill space and meet deadlines were looking for something to fill that space. PR provided assistance to journalists and provided a service to their clients and everyone could come away from the relationship as a winner. If successful, the exposure provided by the “earned media” coverage was far more cost effective than advertising.

I think that relationship is starting to break down.

Bloggers for the most part do not have deadlines nor do they have space to fill. Unless you happen to be a news site covering a particular industry, you have no need for press releases. In fact, almost every blogger I know finds press releases to be an extreme nuisance.

PR agencies have been broadening what they do, providing more promotional campaigns for their clients and straying into the world of advertising. The problem is, they still seem to have the mindset of “earned media”. I’ve had dozens of PR people contact me asking begging for what is basically free advertising. They don’t have the budgets that ad agencies have, nor do the have the mindset to actually pay for exposure.

What I’ve seen is that they start at the top of the list and work their way down until they find someone some sucker who is willing to do it for free. Inevitably after I say no to some promotion, I’ll see it pop up a month later on some site where the blogger is just flattered that someone is paying attention to them.

Of course, you get what you pay for. As with most things on the internet, blogs are distributed by a long tail curve. Any niche or sub-niche you want to look at will be distributed pretty much the same way. If you are willing to work with anyone, that is exactly what you will get. The bloggers who are willing to do anything for free and the ones who can do the least for you.

In my world of travel there are still opportunities to work with PR which make sense. Press trips being the most obvious example.

PR companies need to know that if they start to expand outside of the traditional bounds of PR (which they should), they need to adapt their methods as well. Begging for bloggers to promote their clients for free just doesn’t work, and in the long run is actually counterproductive.

By Gary

3 dimples. 7 continents. 130 countries.

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