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The Future of Media

On August 23, Cision presented a live virtual event which featured 30 of the leading PR, marketing and media influencers answering 15 questions in 60 minutes about the changing media landscape. The discussion brings into focus the new story of PR and marketing. Recordings and transcripts of this event are available here

For public relations professionals, the days of relying on an overstuffed Rolodex and praying for someone to pick up a pitch have become fewer and farther in between. Technology has changed not only the way society gets information, but also the means in which brands project their message to the public. The public relations field is integrating with nearly every aspect of marketing, and the lines between marketing, advertising, public relations and social media have begun to blur.

But in what ways can industry vets make use of the changing landscape?

During Cision’s online event, The Future of Media – Radical Integration, 30 of the top influencers in marketing, PR, advertising and social media tackled such questions and more. With each speaker addressing different questions, the event offered suggestions and tips on how to navigate the different types of media publicity: paid media (advertisements); earned media (public relations); and owned media, (a company’s own site or blog). Much talk focused on the ways these media types differ, how they are similar and how companies need to gain expertise in each.

“We traditionally think of paid advertising as a print ad in a magazine,” said Lindsey Groepper, senior vice president at BLASTmedia Public Relations. “When you’re looking at something like that, it’s become something that’s very impersonal. By utilizing social media platforms, it gives advertisers and marketers the opportunity to, instead of doing one-to-many communications, they’re now doing one-to-one-to-many.”

Many of the events speakers agreed that utilizing all three media types is the most effective brand management.

“I can’t see how a marketing plan can get funded today if it didn’t integrate paid, owned and earned media tactics equally,” said Andrea Foote, director of communications for PepsiCo Beverages Americas. “Through traditional media relations, we’ve always had the opportunity when the stars were aligned to add credibility to our brand story by leveraging a third party voice. But the advent of social media means that earned media now also includes the conversations that our consumers are initiating because they’re invested in our brand experience.”

While social media is becoming the future of marketing, paid media is not a thing of the past, said Jason Keath with Social Fresh.

“Advertising reaches a scale and a speed that social media just cannot compete with yet,” he said. “When you need awareness, advertising brings the numbers that most companies are after. Social media can reach the digital influencers that many businesses are after and both of those combined are important, separately and together.”

However, Todd Defren, principal of SHIFT Communications, had a slightly different opinion. In his view, owned media is the key to public relations, and the best way a company can advertise.

“If there’s one thing that social media’s taught us, it’s this constant, ravenous need for content that the corporation creates, whether in the form of tweets or blog posts or funny viral videos,” he said. “It’s all about reputation, it’s all about word of mouth and with everything going online, anything that you do, any reaction you get will be earned.”

The event’s panelists also discussed the ways to view success in the era of radical integration. Measuring the return on investment might involve Web traffic, downloads, event attendance, purchases and the effect of social media on customer service said Heather Whaling, president of Geben Communication.

“Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all success metric,” she said. “While things like fans and followers matter online — without them, you’re just talking to yourself — network size alone doesn’t equate to success. Similarly, if you’re working on an advertising or PR campaign, don’t just measure eyeballs or impressions. Focus on how measuring your communication efforts relates back to a bigger business goal.”

Ultimately, integrating social media with earned media and advertising is going to allow for a more personal approach, said Deirdre Breakenridge, author of PR 2.0 and Putting the Public back in Public Relations.

“You have the ability to create content in a transparent and human way and you’re able to reveal the people behind the company,” she said. “This is critical because you can make connections, have a voice and build stronger relationships through owned media. This is really different and so much better than the one-way messaging of the past and I’m thankful for that.”

About Gina Joseph

Gina Joseph is a features writer for Cision Blog, and is also the digital engagement manager for Cision’s marketing department. She’s a book nerd, Detroit sports enthusiast, lover of cats, lifelong Phil Collins fan, and budding snowboarder. Find her on Twitter @gmg912.

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