How Content Marketing Could Kill PR

There has been a lot of talk lately about the death of traditional PR and paid vs. owned vs. earned media.  In the past, PR agencies worked toward getting “earned” media. That meant a third party, typically a journalist, wrote an article about about you or your company. You earned the article by doing something newsworthy, interesting. Whatever the case, a third-party wrote and published a story about you. You didn’t pay for the article to run, nor did you have control over the content.

However, today, the lines are blurred and PR agencies are often charged with helping their clients secure a hybrid of paid, owned and earned media. Furthermore, clients are now cutting out the cost of the middle-man and working directly with digital publishers.

Earned Media:  Earned media is the often hardest media to get. You can’t buy “earned” media, you, must earn it. Earned media is what keep PR agencies in business. Let’s say you have a product you want people to know about, or a story to share.  You would then pitch that story to reporters, producers, bloggers and other influential third-parties to try and get them to write about you. That being said PR professionals do not guaranty article placement and even lower priced contracts are very expensive for small business owners. Typical PR engagements cost around $5,000-$10,000/month with a minimum 6-month assignment.

Paid Media:  Paid media is advertising. Most paid media comes in the form of an advertisement in print media, a commercial on TV, or a banner ad on a website. However, paid media comes in new forms today – including a sponsored blog post or advertorial (as per FTC guidelines paid content must always be marked as “sponsored” or “paid”).   If done right a paid media strategy can net extraordinary results. Just ask Coke, Redbull, P&G, etc.

In late August 2014, Edelman and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) released a study on in-feed sponsored content. This was a piece of research led by Edelman Berland and Steve Rubel, Edelman's chief content strategist, called “Getting In-Feed Sponsored Content Right: The Consumer View.”

Here are the key findings:

  1. The important factors drawing interest were “brand-relevant information” (match the editorial in style and quality), “brand as authority on topic” (share your expertise, don’t sell) and “brand I know and trust” (transparency above all).
  2. The readers of business and entertainment news are quite receptive to in-feed sponsored content, not so the readers of general news (45 percent versus 27 percent). Sixty percent of consumers are more open to online ads that tell a story than ones that simply sell a product.
  3. The media partner matters — specifically there is a 33 percent lift in the perceived credibility of the sponsored content when it is on a credibly perceived news site. Hence our partnership between the Dairy Management folks and The Washington Post is perfect.
  4. Established brands with communities already in place do better than new brands with in-feed sponsored content. Specifically, the study notes established brands that seek to enhance and differentiate their image, deepen existing consumer relationships and launch brand extensions will do best with native advertising.
  5. In a quadrant analysis in which we probed most interesting and least intrusive as the two vectors, in-feed sponsored content scored substantially higher than video ads, rollover ads, banner ads or pop-up ads.

Sponsored content is quickly becoming the standard way brands reach news audiences. It is cost effective, targeted and efficient.

Owned Media:  Owned media comes in the channels you own and which you control all the content. For example, Johnson & Johnson own BabyCenter. That is their owned media – albeit an extraordinary example.  Other less drastic forms of owned media may come in an email newsletter you create regularly to communicate with your customers. You own that customer list and newsletter content.  It is also your blog content, website, social media pages (although today, many are wondering who owns their Facebook community – them or Facebook).  Owned media has components of paid and earned media too. You have to create remarkable content to earn engagement on your content (likes, shares, retweets, etc.).  You often have to pay to advertise on “owned” social media too.

Let Project Eve's editorial team showcase your brand and reach 20 million women with our original, engaging content and custom contests with social media amplification. We have worked over 30 nationally recognized partners including: Dove, Nestle, Wellness, Hiscox, PopSecret, Suntrust, Kotex P&G, Luna Bars, Lara Bars, Sketchers.

Contact Meridith Dennes at [email protected] to a media kit and learn more.

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Meridith Dennes is a co-founder and the CEO of Project Eve LLC, a leading women's lifestyle media company online including some of the web's best loved communities including the eponymous Project Eve, Getting Balance, Project Eve Moms, Project Eve Money and Scary Puppy Silly Kitty. With a digital readership in excess of 20+ million monthly uniques, and over 1 million social media followers, Project Eve provides the news and resources to inspire and empower women. Meridith also works as a digital consultant and social media strategist and has worked with several Fortune 500 companies to help increase brand awareness and improve social media engagement.Meridith holds a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business. Prior to founding Project Eve, she spent 15 years working in investment banking. Meridith currently lives in Vermont with her husband and 2 daughters and spends her free time teaching skiing, practicing yoga, hiking and snowshoeing.