There are aspects of our industry that are just plain confusing for our clients, not to mention family and friends. I give my dad a ton of credit. When I first launched the Fluent IMC website, he knew I did a lot of professional writing, but beyond that, my trade was as mysterious to him as his ability to drive a diesel freight train is to me. Big shout out to my amazingly proud and supportive dad. He has read every post on our blog to better understand what I do. Every. Single. Post.
While our entire inventory of blog posts certainly isn’t required reading for our busy clients, we recently realized it was time to craft a primer. After casually using the terms “paid media” and “earned media” in a client meeting, there was confusion about whether the company would be buying an ad or being paid a stipend to appear as a speaker. The truth is that many of our clients simply don’t understand the basic differences between marketing, public relations and advertising. Why should they? They’re incredibly smart people. But they’ve hired us to provide marketing expertise because, after all, they’re busy practicing their craft while we’re busy practicing ours. That being said, it still helps if both agency and client can speak a common language.
Behold the “Top 5 Things We Teach Every New Client About PR”
1. What exactly is public relations anyway?
According to the Public Relations Society of America, public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. As PR professionals, we help share our clients’ stories and position them as thought leaders in their industries by increasing visibility through our relationships with the media.
2. Who/what is the media?
In our view, “media” doesn’t just mean newspapers or broadcast stations, but could be any third party that delivers a message to a broad audience. In the professional services marketing space (where we spend a lot of our time), industry trade associations that reach large groups of referral sources are considered a form of media. These days, bloggers and social media influencers are considered just as influential as traditional media in many industries. We love the amazing reach of a national publication or online magazine, but sometimes the most powerful medium is a trade group’s membership newsletter or annual event.
3. It’s not advertising.
Yes, we do advertising strategy and media buying for some clients. No, it’s not the same as PR. We refer to “earned media” vs. “paid media”. Integrated marketing utilizes the PESO Model (Paid, Earned, Shared & Owned Media). Advertising is paid/purchased media. Public relations is earned media. Brand awareness content you create (your website, blog, a video or case study) is owned media. Shared media is a newer and relevant player in an integrated marketing effort – think social media posts or social media awareness campaign involving online influencers.
4. It’s all about relationships.
Just as journalists are viewed as reliable sources that share information with the public, we act as sources for members of the media. They hear from a lot of PR and marketing professionals, and they know that when we approach them with a story idea, we’re providing them with trustworthy, quality content their readers will be interested in. Because we’re working with earned media, and no story is guaranteed, we stay on top of what different journalists are focusing on and think creatively to frame timely stories and pitch them to the journalist that will be the best fit.
5. Media Advisory vs. Press Release vs. Pitch
There are many ways we might reach out to the media when it comes to spreading the word for our clients.
A media advisory is short and sweet, inviting members of the media to a specific event with a straightforward approach that provides all the necessary details they’ll need to attend.
We use a press release to announce client news. It’s lengthier than a media advisory, and includes as much detail as possible about the announcement, event, or new product or initiative that we’re spreading the word about. Some press releases are included in their entirety in media outlets.
When we have a great idea about how our client could be featured in a media outlet, we pitch that concept to a specific individual. With a pitch, we’re thinking creatively about what might appeal to specific audiences and sharing our ideas in hopes that the reporter or editor we’ve reached out to is interested in using it to frame a future story.
We hope this PR overview offers a better understanding of our profession, the language we speak within our industry, and a glimpse of the ins and outs of our typical day.