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The Importance of Earned Media

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When I first started in PR, the most valuable thing you had was your Rolodex (yes, a physical object). The job revolved around the reporters you knew. Relationships were what lifted you up above the din of PR noise.

People are not reliant on Rolodexes anymore, of course. And many of us don’t have as much time to nurture media relationships. But some things have stayed the same, including the need for good stories. In fact, in our changing media world, we need more than ever before to be able tell good stories via the media. Reporters may have less time, money and expertise than they used to have but they still are drawn to a good story.

It is tempting to believe we no longer need media. For example, plenty of surveys, including Edelman’s own Trust Barometer, tell us of the decline of media. The order of sources for trusted information is search engines, then traditional media, then hybrid media. But these lines are grey, as traditional and hybrid media populate search engine results. Quite simply, people trust a plurality of sources. Translation: media still matters.

Here’s something we know for sure: no matter what way the media shifts in the coming years, we will still have someone telling stories. And once a story makes its way to the media, we all know the endless potential for pushing that story out in today’s digital world. Good stories will get you covered. But that’s only the beginning as we push those stories out on Facebook, through our client websites, Twitter and more. Earned media is still the best bang for your buck.

So if you’re in PR, here are some tips for getting your story out there: Make it easy for the reporter. Develop the ability to spot trends before they happen, identify issues that resonate with people emotionally and be an advocate for clear and simple communication. And work within the framework the reporters face – deadlines and all.

Who knows where the media is headed? Plenty of people will tell you we are seeing the final years of journalism. I believe it will continue to exist – in some fashion – because of its critical and historic watchdog role. But no matter where things go from here, there will always be room for those who know, and can tell, a good story.

Lauri Hennessey is a vice president at Edelman Seattle.

Image by Lena Vasiljeva.
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