Often, publicists are asked what the difference is between marketing and public relations. The answer varies greatly, but a soft distinction helps separate the mess – paid media vs. earned media. In this post, let’s focus primarily on the hurdles small businesses face.
When we hear about small business marketing, we think of goal-oriented communication that ideally encourages consumers to purchase a product or hire a service. In that process, a marketing firm dictates the content, placement and reach of the communication, for example an advertisement. Let’s call this “paid media” because the client, i.e. the small business, is paying for these messages to be delivered to customers, based on the marketing firm’s recommendation.
In contrast, a publicist recommends public relations strategies that encourage newspapers, websites, blogs, etc. to devote coverage and content to the client. The best small business publicists know how to target interested media and increase the likelihood of getting that prime headline or story. You’re not paying for the content but rather the publicist’s services, so when you get that sweet press hit, you’ve got “earned media.”
The great advantage of earned media is the objectivity associated with the messenger. For example, when the small business CEO is quoted in an article on investment advice, and the outlet has a reputation for impartial reporting, the messaging gains significant authenticity. And once the press hits pile up, the publicist can then push them through viral media, social networking sites and other platforms where potential clients, customers and stakeholders are waiting to hear about the next big thing.
So, the moral of the story is that in developing a small businesses marketing plan, the client should always appreciate the importance of paid and earned media, working in tandem, to generate more revenue, positive attention and ultimately success over competitors.