Paid, earned, owned media: An interview with Sarah Evans
Social media is bringing about a change. It’s affecting how PR and marketing agencies function on a day-to-day basis and the definitions of paid, earned and owned media. The lines are becoming blurred and now the challenge is to figure out how to integrate all three forms of media. I was able to talk with Sarah Evans, owner of Sevans Strategy, blogger and #journchat moderator, about how social media is changing the paid, owned, earned media model.
How has social media changed our ability to generate earned media?
Social media hasn’t necessarily changed our ability to generate earned media, but it has helped us build personal relationships with reporters and bloggers. With shrinking newsrooms, reporters are inundated with pitches and emails, while in the process of managing several beats. For PR pros, helping a client’s story be seen or heard via traditional media is even more of a challenge. Those who have established relationships with reporters and editors have a much better chance of getting through. This means taking the time to build relationships via Twitter, Facebook or other social platforms, commenting on posts or looking through HARO to provide helpful sources. Also think about building the relationship before you need it.
How credible is social media when it is actually owned media, managed and directed by the corporate marketer, and used to influence consumer behavior?
Brands, people and businesses can’t automatically jump on social media and expect credibility — the best have taken the time to engage with consumers and fans in a genuine way and provide helpful resources to earn their credibility. Just because a brand is producing their own content doesn’t necessarily mean it will have the power to influence if it doesn’t have a following or has been discredited in the past.
How can the people responsible for PR, advertising and owned content collaborate more effectively?
All three must work together from the get-go of a project to build a plan, map out objectives and agree on the implementation process of strategies and tactics. By working together, especially if using social media as one of their tools, they can determine the best way to engage in a meaningful way, which hopefully doesn’t involve push messaging.
What does success look like in the era of radical integration? How do we measure the ROI of paid, earned and owned media both independently and as components of the integrated marketing mix?
First, have a plan outlined beforehand with objectives and how your paid, earned and owned media strategies can help to drive these goals. Your objectives should be seen as benchmarks and can be changed along the way based on how the campaign is going and any feedback you’re receiving. We like to get buy-in from our clients on the plan and provide counsel so they understand (1) what we’re trying to accomplish and (2) what success looks like.
Second, we take the time to help clients understand the difference between return on investment (ROI) and return on engagement (ROE) and how this can be tracked. I’ve found ROE is better for measuring and understanding the success of a social media campaign – quantifying human interactions and conversation through numbers with ROI is tricky. Instead, look to document anecdotes of customer interactions whether on Twitter, Facebook, the comments section of a blog post or an online forum; use the feedback you receive from online audiences to improve your product or service and offer helpful resources to your customers.
If you want to hear more from Sarah Evans, register for our virtual event, The Future of Media, on August 23 at 2pm ET.
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