We call earned media the result of an organization's mainstream media and blogger outreach. We've been thinking about this relationship as an attempt by the organization to influence third-party content providers to write about the company, its products, or services.
In the old model, the public relations professional sends a pitch, the journalist, editor, or blogger either responds requesting more information, or the PR team follows up with a subsequent reminder about the pitch -- typically, another email or a phone call.
This is still done today, despite the widespread adoption of new media by both the pitching and the pitched.
There needs to be a better way. In many cases the follows ups are not more interesting or tailored than the original pitches. In some cases they are outright annoying. We're used to looking at the journalist and blogger as the influentials and the PR professionals as the people working to persuade or manipulate them.Influence is a better way
To build a reputation of credibility, reliability, and trustworthiness for the organizations they represent, PR professionals need to influence attitudes and behaviors. Increasingly, the best way to do that is by becoming knowledgeable about the product or service, as well as the industry and context in which they operate -- its market ecosystem.
Influence is built on trust, so there need to be three essential agreements on how to go about getting there:
(1.) Ethics in data collection -- full disclosure is the new transparency
(2.) Open communication -- as business is a process, so two-way communication or conversation is the lubricant that fosters ownership
(3.) Clear language -- say what you mean, illustrate with stories, eliminate jargon, adopt the words of your communityBecome a useful filter
Although we've been talking about content overload for quite a while, to me the need for quality content is still very much alive. PR professionals are in a rare situation of being able to affect how information is analyzed, aggregated, and filtered to make it more digestible -- and help people make sense of it better.
This means they will probably also be more likely to share it.
I'm thinking about American Express OPEN forum as the go-to place for small business information and content, as a successful example. Then think about the opportunity missed by organizations in health care to aggregate information and news on the health care reform to help customers make sense of things.
How you get there
Earned media is a result of influence, not persuasion. We write about people and organizations we get to know -- not just know about -- and learn to trust. Influence is a sign that the relationship is going somewhere.
If these are the benefits, what are the challenges? Do new media and technology encourage a less thoughtful approach than that of past influential PR professionals? Thinking about the role of counselor to the CEO that many communicators have filled.
Is it now too easy to be careless about quality and attention?
[image by lynetter]
© 2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.