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Sunday / April 2.
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How earned coverage is the measuring stick for big ideas

Andy Pray

Never before have we had to earn media the way we do now. By the time we do get a hit, you’re right – it was earned

Andy Pray, Praytell


In this era of hand wringing of what to call PR, “PR” practitioners can at least take solace that earned media efforts reflect a perfectly named discipline. Never before have we had to earn media the way we do now. Fewer publications – and even fewer reporters – means more junior varsity pitches clogging the few receptive in-boxes left. By the time we do get a hit, you’re right – it was earned.

Which is why, of course, those earned media efforts are more in demand than ever and cornerstones of paid and owned plans like never before. On the paid side, we know that when a savvy publisher shares a hit on a platform such as Facebook, the results are golden. Edgerank still loves publishers (today, at least); it’s the kind of reach that has long since stopped being free.

Talk to any good creative shop, and they’ll tell you they use PR/earned coverage as the internal measuring stick of efficacy for a big idea. After all, earned media is the ultimate gauge of a big idea. It is the cultural proof that agencies have made an impact and broken through the clutter.

So let’s talk about the two things that have to happen for earned media to have that halo effect for paid, for owned.

On “their” side it’s simple – invite us to the table early. Really early. That takes trust from our partners, trust that we won’t be wet blankets playing the role of lawyer when evaluating an idea, always saying no. We’ll work to be quite the opposite, at least the modern, relevant ones built with complementary creative will. We can help shape the idea, rethink norms, ensure assets deliver and, yes, we can answer the big question – will this get covered.

And now, the thing we’ve got to do.

In short, we have to help them boost their plans with our intrinsic insights and experience without being threatened. We must have creative confidence. We need to believe in our abilities to contribute to ideas and proactively aid in their amplification, not just take orders. It’s tough to do considering that ad agencies that get it are aggressively hiring from our ranks and represent a considerable competitive threat for talent and new business.

But that word right there – threat – is incredibly important. Because for the really good work to happen – the kind that mom will hang on the fridge – we’ve got to let go of the insecurity and hold hands.

At Praytell, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with killer ad agencies that believe in the power of earned and include PR from the start. They know that the days of PR being last to know are over – and the results speak volumes. It’s an approach and respect that has been hard fought from our industry. It’s a result that has been earned.


Andy Pray is founder of Praytell Strategy.


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