Public relations practitioners and advertising representatives often find themselves at odds over marketing budgets. Both have their merits and ideally should complement one another, not compete with each other.
Lately, I’ve been knee-deep in studying impressions, traffic patterns, audience penetration and media formats for an outdoor advertising campaign on behalf of Nuffer, Smith, Tucker client the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program. Picking which billboard or transit center display will reach residents in a target area at the right time of day with the right message, and frequently enough to resonate, can make the head spin. But it’s important to work through these details to reach target audiences in a way traditional media outreach doesn’t. Earned media placements lend credibility to a message, create a sense of urgency and provide a forum for in-depth education. Paid media reaches a broader audience more frequently with attention-grabbing creative. Using both together makes an indelible impression.
Integrating both paid and earned media strategies is especially important when it comes to online marketing. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer ample opportunities to expand reach by boosting posts and targeting audiences. In fact, allocating even a modest paid budget to Facebook will likely increase earned reach as well. For the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program, we broadcast the organization’s public service announcement through traditional television and radio, but we also post the video online and pay to display it to key audiences via Facebook. This blended strategy has given us the power to boost the PSA’s reach by tens of thousands in media markets most crucial to our client’s success.
I won’t be hanging up my media relations hat any time soon. Earned media is invaluable when it comes to building trust, establishing relationships and educating key audiences. It’s the bread and butter of public relations. But I think all public relations professionals ought to get comfortable assessing the value of paid media opportunities. Get your feet wet with managing social media advertising accounts, then gradually explore other paid tactics, like direct mail and radio spots. Before you know it, you’ll have a handle on how to negotiate paid and earned media together—and your clients will thank you for the results they see.