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Is earned media more credible than advertising?

From Cherish PR, part of The Wilful Group.


PR and advertising are both equally important in any company’s overall marketing mix, but the two play entirely different roles and growing brands need to be careful not to try to replace one discipline with another.

With paid media (advertising) you have complete control over your brand message and you can guarantee your place in your chosen media. It’s fantastic for awareness, it’s controlled and delivered beautifully but sometimes it doesn’t work. Why? The answer is that it’s exactly because it is advertising and the user, reader or viewer knows that. They read your ad and think, “well you would say you’re great wouldn't you?”

The beauty of PR is that it works to attract the interest of respected third parties and gets them talking about you. These could be journalists, social influencers, celebrities or even local communities. They’re respected and their words will not only attract the interest of your consumer, they’ll drive positive awareness and impact decision-making. Precisely because your story was independently verified by a trusted third party, it has more credibility than a purchased ad campaign.

The trouble with PR is that it’s never guaranteed; it’s earned by effectively positioning and promoting your company to the media, and you're not always in control of the message.

As a PR professional, our job is to convince reporters or influencers to publish a positive story, but journalists need to be objective. Journalistic objectivity requires that a reporter can’t take sides. The journalist needs to report only facts, not personal attitudes towards the facts. Journalists balance a variety of sources, viewpoints and perspectives to create their stories.

That’s why PRs have to communicate your messages in a more subtle way. They’ll consider what’s going on in the world and what’s in the news. They’ll try to hook your company into stories that they want to write about or look for why your product or service is really different from anything else, or better still is being adopted at a rapid rate, creating a trend.

These stories take time, to create, to develop, to pitch and to evolve into the final article. They cannot be booked for a certain day, week or month for that matter. The journalist may come back to a story months after it was first pitched, and occasionally written. Earned media coverage takes at least 3-4 months to deliver and the best programmes are switched on all year round.

The best PR professionals know how to create strategies that will help you to get there faster and in a more cost-effective way. At Cherish PR, we have years of experience helping innovative start-ups create stories that earn the media’s attention and consumers’ trust.

Here are the main differences between earned and paid media:

Earned media: Public Relations

  • Third party validation creates credibility

  • Editorial placement is non-invasive

  • The brand has less or no control of content

  • Builds relationships

  • A long-term focus on business objectives

  • No guarantee of coverage

Paid media: Advertising

  • Self-promotional

  • Advertising can be disruptive

  • The brand has complete control of content

  • Promotes brands and products

  • A short-term focus on sales objectives

  • Guaranteed exposure

Do you think earned media is more credible than advertising?



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