Tips for paid, owned and earned

Earning a Seat at the Table: Why public relations is critical to integrated planning

Tips for incorporating paid, owned and earned perspectives in strategy development

When it comes to developing a marketing communications strategy and kicking off plan development, the first step is, naturally, deciding who will be at the decision-making table.

Years ago, it was the account team and creative – that’s how communications had always been done; a creative print ad or TV spot took center stage and all other tactics revolved around those. Public relations teams were asked to make news out of a creative campaign. Therefore, outside of the creative concept, most tactics including PR were force-fitted, and the plan was integrated merely because all tactics were in the same slide deck, and not because tactics actually worked together. 

The Shift to Permission-Based Marketing

Today’s strategic planning teams look different. This is due largely to the general industry shift from interruption marketing, or more conventional advertising, to content- and permission-based marketing.

When interruption marketing ruled, companies controlled what they wanted to say and how customers and potential customers received information. The marketing communications evolution to permission-based marketing started with email opt-ins and has evolved to consumer privacy controls, a shift to the broader practice of content marketing.

Marketing today puts the consumer or customer in charge of when, how and where they are open to receiving messages. It’s one reason earned media and/or public relations should have a seat at every planning table. This is because the modern way of approaching communications – prioritizing what information customers want to receive and how they want to receive it – is how public relations and earned media practitioners have always operated.

An Earned Approach to Content Development

Anyone who works in earned media has had to consider value to the reader and operate with the understanding that the consumer can choose not to consume their content. Earned media best practices are very similar to current principles for successful content marketing, as outlined by Content Marketing Institute:

  1. Content fills a need
  2. It communicates consistently
  3. It requires you to find your unique, human voice
  4. It expresses a point of view
  5. It is devoid of sales speak
  6. It’s recognized as the best of its breed

Because public relations professionals have always had to relinquish control of their audience, they focus on building relationships and thinking beyond brand statements to develop storylines that garner audiences’ interest while supporting the brand.

Putting Permission-Based into Practice

How can you and your team integrate earned media and public relations from the beginning stages of strategic development? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Re-evaluate your brief process, whether it is campaign, creative, project, paid, owned or earned media. There will be different needs for each area, but there should be common threads that run throughout all of them. If possible, work with teams to create a single brief for all departments.
  • Think of your PR team as account strategists. Your PR team has been researching issues, finding trends and interviewing third parties on relevant topics. They can help you unearth insights. For this reason, it’s not a coincidence that as “account strategist” gains popularity, a lot of them came up as PR pros.
  • Involve the PR team even if the tactic isn’t overtly related to PR. They might have different ideas and different approaches to a project. You might think it costs you money in time, but it could save you time and effort in the long run.

The next time you sit down to start planning a communications strategy, be sure to consider the value of having an earned media or PR representative at the table. 

R+K’s Amy McEvoy, head of Earned Media, contributed to this post. If you would like to learn more about how Rhea + Kaiser can help your team incorporate paid, owned and earned perspectives into strategic planning, contact our Business Development Director gtomaro@rkconnect.com.

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