Earned media and the power of brand

Tread carefully: Earned vs paid media and the power of brand value

Before you ask… no, this article isn’t going to be an attempt to dissuade you from ever spending money on paid media because only earned PR deserves your investment.

But this can be a confusing area for companies, particularly in the B2B technology arena, who want to get in front of an audience but aren’t sure how to do it.

The best media publications defend and nurture their audience in order to elevate their own value to an industry. They don’t publish ‘guff’ but quality articles that their audience wants to read and share. But let’s face it, anyone can pay for an article to be published, and that’s why the debate between earned vs paid really comes down to credibility.

When was the last time you read a newspaper, either on or offline, and thought of the advertising as anything other than a distraction? When was the last time you came across the sponsored section of a news website and didn’t skip over it?

If you’re like 99% of the people on Planet Earth, your search for information is guided by a desire to discern value, not just relevance. You’re extremely time-short, in fact I’m surprised you’ve made it this far.

The problem for B2B tech marketing teams exists in the gray area of advertorial. This is where paid media encroaches on editorial, and what’s being published looks nothing like a traditional advert and more like any other article. There are words, lots of them. And a byline too. Maybe even a headshot. But what is it you’re saying that’s so important you felt you had to pay someone to publish it, but not important enough for them to want to cover it for free?

How valuable is the information that I am sharing is the conversation that should always be had before you get your wallet out — all too often it isn’t.

The fact is, earned media still holds value because every time you convince a journalist to publish something, they’re showing everybody you’re interesting. You’re worth listening to. You’ve created something so valuable that people really should hear about it. Your reward? You get to share it and be seen sharing it on that piece of media real estate, glowing with the editor’s endorsement. You are also infinitely more likely to have your ideas and thoughts shared across social media and commentary sections by an engaged community. New prospects, partners, investors, clients and influencers.

For all the talk in marketing meetings of the importance of brand, not enough is said about the brand value of the media titles themselves. That brand value is because they care about their audience, and invest in their journalism. The stronger they are, the greater the compliment being paid when you feature and the more influence you generate. That’s powerful public relations, and customers take notice.

You don’t get any of that when you pay, because everybody knows you’ve paid and nobody is very interested in reading what you’ve supplied. Unless you have a rare and very specific need to place a longer piece of content about your product in front of an audience you cannot reach any other way, it’s largely pointless. And if you want to support a publication, there are better ways to do it.

Some publications routinely break the law by failing to disclose the commercial nature of paid-for content. This is the most counter-productive breach of editorial standards, because it’s only a matter of time before everybody knows, and the brand value of that title declines. It’s then no good to anyone.

There has also been a trend in recent years whereby organizations calling themselves ‘newswires’ arrange with high-domain authority websites to publish press releases on their URLs. Even though these articles don’t go near a journalist or appear on a news edited homepage of any kind (so you’d only see them if it was shared or you put the right search term into Google), a company’s communications and marketing team is able to pass these off as worthwhile coverage to their higher-ups. They probably even tell them about the incredible ‘reach’ those articles had.

In truth, when you occasionally produce news that no one is interested in, that’s a good thing (bear with me). It means you’re fighting for attention on a level playing field where success, when it comes, still means something. And guess what — you’re not going to win that battle every time. You’ve got to rely on your wits, your guile, your writing, imagination and ideas to make sure journalists want to write about you more than your competitors.

So be interesting. Back real journalism and put your wallets away. Then give me a call.

About Neil Millard

Neil is the managing director of Abode Worldwide. Neil oversees all delivery for clients and brings Fleet St know-how and more than a decade’s journalistic experience to the way we elevate the businesses we partner with.

Changing perceptions of the short term rental industry: The stories we need to tell

INSIGHT: The short term rental sector is constantly evolving and growing, meaning views will shift. Here’s the changes you need to be aware of.

2023 ShortTermRentalz Summit, London – Key Takeaways

INSIGHT: We recently attended the inaugural ShortTermRentalz Summit, here are our thoughts and key takeaways from the day.

Pillow Talk#8 – Distribution addiction, the long stay, the inevitability of failure and the problem with hoteliers

PILLOW TALK: A regular newsletter where Abode Worldwide’s founder and CEO, Jessica Gillingham shares musings, learnings and insight about the pioneering lodging technology brands and operators transforming the way we work, rest and play.