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PR has to be earned - it’s not free

June, 2014

There is no such thing as free PR. Businesses who think that PR is free rarely, if ever, get the full benefit of it as a way of building trust and engaging with their customers.

A more realistic view is to think of PR as earned media, that delivers impartial editorial, which can be priceless, as well as timeless.

Unlike paid-for media, in the form of advertising, earned media stimulates awareness and trust, both vital as a business looks to build a positive reputation among potential customers.

Always online

The significance of earned media has been extended in today’s always-on, always-connected online world, especially when PR activity is actively integrated with social media.

The power of trust in the decision-making process of any customer is crucial to the long-term success of any business whether selling to the public or other companies.

The majority of people search the internet and visit the likes of TripAdvisor, or use #AskTwitter to find a new supplier. Most of us still ask friends, family or colleagues for an opinion or recommendation before we buy. Shoppers trust each other more than any other source of information when considering a purchase, so it’s imperative that businesses develop a positive reputation.

The power of earned media

Taking prospective customers from unawareness to ardent advocates can be delivered via earned media – generated via press releases, comments, inclusion in editorial features, product reviews, or via interviews on radio or television, alongside social media and a good website.

Accepted statistics suggest more than nine out of 10 people trust word-of-mouth recommendations, which are more likely to trigger a purchase, compared to less than three in 10 who believe paid-for adverts.

Earned media packs a powerful punch because, in general, customer opinions can't be bought and so are considered more credible. It’s unlikely you’ll have ever met the reviewer on TripAdvisor, but you’re still likely to believe their posting.

Earned, owned, paid

While earned media needs to be central to every company’s marketing efforts, it can’t be done in isolation from other forms of media. Earned media done in tandem with paid-for and owned media, works well when they are woven together.

Though you can't buy earned media, that doesn't mean it’s free. The rules for building a successful brand haven't changed. Your products or services must speak for themselves and that requires commitment and effort. And by shifting attention to earned media, brands can build deeper long-term relationships with their most-engaged customers, which will have lasting benefits in terms of ROI, rewards, and revenue.

So while PR isn’t free, when it’s done properly it is hugely powerful.

Andrew Metcalf - Director

Andrew Metcalf

Maxim / Managing Director

posted in: advice, media relations, public relations, reputation management,

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