The EOP Era of Public Relations
Public relations is, to some degree, always changing. There’s always some new tool or technique to stay ahead of the curve. But every so often, these changes are so severe, or culminate in a way, that they force us to alter the strategy and counsel we provide to clients, bosses and even each other. The rise of social and digital media, and concurrently, the changing nature of the traditional media landscape, is one such example.
As Josh discussed in his previous post, public relations used to involve a lot of grunt work, all directed to encourage reporters to cover your story. This emphasis on media relations was so pronounced for a compelling reason – there were few other channels available for reaching target audiences, enhancing credibility and broadening awareness.
Fast forward to today where various platforms not only exist for reaching customers and potential customers directly but that also make it cheaper and easier than ever to create, publish and promote your own content. While the rise of these platforms have some doomsday naysayers preaching the death of media relations, the fact is that earned media and social platforms will live comfortable next to one another for quite some time.
So where does this leave the PR industry? This “Brave New World” of PR isn’t one to be feared, and in fact, quite the contrary. Our profession arguably has never had tools like we do now, tools that offer unprecedented levels of community building, analysis and response.
This new world of PR has three main components: Earned, Owned and Paid (EOP) media. Over the next several weeks, we will outline each EOP element in more detail, delving deep on their specific applications and best practices as well as the underlying rationale for why we believe they present such promise.
Before jumping in, however, there are a few key things to keep in mind as you contemplate implementing an EOP strategy for your organization.
- Virtually every business needs some combination of the three.
- The mix of these will look different for everyone, depending on their specific business goals.
- It is essential you have a clear and thorough understanding of your business’ goals, audience and expertise.
For decades, public relations agencies everywhere kept their doors open thanks to media relations – ours included. The whole concept of third-party credibility as derived from media placements is the cornerstone of our profession. And even though digital media has exploded in the last 10 years, a well-positioned media placement still is one of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness, enhance reputations and establish expertise positions. According to a 2014 Nielson study, editorial content was shown to be 88 percent more effective than branded content at raising brand awareness.
With all of that said, you should be spending all your time reaching out to the media, right? Not so much.
Here’s the bad news. The average reporter receives several hundred PR pitches a day. And PR professionals outnumber reporters 5:1. And even some of the largest, most established news outlets like USA Today and The New York Times have laid off dozens of newsroom staff in the past three years.
We don’t say this demoralize you (promise), but to convey just how important it is to know what you’re doing when it comes to pitching the media. More than ever, earned media is a game of patience, precision and persistence.
Based on the previous section, you can think of earned media as a series of peaks and valleys, with no real control for how long the valleys between stories are. Owned media, on the other hand, is something you can control. The trade-off being you have to figure out 1.) who your customers are and what insight you can provide that they would care about, 2.) where and what format your customers prefer to receive this content and 3.) how you’ll come up with the time and resources to produce it all.
These three points are where a lot of organizations fall off the rails. Many simply talk about how great they are, which goes against the No. 1 rule of grade-school English classes, “Show, don’t tell.” It also runs counter to common social medial protocols of resisting the temptation to sell. Then there are those who might come up with a compelling piece of content, but are publishing it on platforms their customers don’t use. The point is, here again you need to know what you’re doing. (Read: this is not an assignment you simply give to your intern because she has grown up around social platforms.)
As we keep saying, social and digital platforms give you all kinds of publishing opportunities that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Great! However, Mark Zuckerberg & Co. slowly have chipped away at businesses’ ability to rely organic reach, upping the need to invest in social advertising (e.g., boosted posts, sidebar advertisements, etc.).
The cynic might say this is just a plow to make money, but the data that these platforms make available to advertisers is almost shockingly specific. On Facebook, for example, you can target your posts to someone who rents an apartment and has recently been approved for a mortgage, who also also returned from a trip two weeks ago.
The cold hard truth is that if you don’t spend some amount of money on your social channels, the majority of your fans and followers won’t see it. The good news is that you have an incredible opportunity to make sure your content is seen by exactly those you’re trying to reach. Not only that, these social platforms also provide some of the clearest marketing metrics available that show how effective your ads and content are at achieving your stated objectives.
Are you still with us? Great, because understanding the basics behind EOP is just the tip of iceberg. The next three posts on the subject will explore each of them in greater details, while providing useful how-to’s and resources to make sure your content strategy is helping your organization meet its goals.