Earned Media: The Times Catch Up with Click

A few years ago, Mac and I got to visit the Castle set and meet one of our favorite actors, Nathan Fillion. First, because I know this is what you really want to know, I can tell you that he was as nice and funny and gracious as everyone who’s ever met or worked with him says he is.

Second, when we told him that we ran a PR agency that specialized in online outreach he joked with us, “Oh, so you think this Internet fad is going to stick around?”

I tell this story not just to brag that we met the original “Cap’n Tightpants” and he was awesome, but also because in our first conversation, he understood that creating a PR agency of online specialists seemed like a pretty good idea. Of course, this is something we’ve also believed for years, it just hasn’t always been treated like a top priority.

That is all changing. Whether you call it online PR, digital Publicity, earned media, or whatever the current buzz word is, that thing we’ve been doing for years now has started to get some national attention with articles talking about how important good digital publicity is, and how to find the agency that’s right for you.

Of course, we think that if you’re looking for a new PR agency then there’s a more than excellent chance that Click is the agency for you, but let’s set that aside for a second and just talk about why having strong digital PR partners is such a great idea.

Online PR is important because…

Good online PR increases your search results. Yesterday, Inc.com published an article entitled “SEO Strategy: Link Building is Obsolete” that talks about key differences between earned media and search engine advertising, or link building, when it comes to maximizing search results. In an age where all of us are masters of “Google-fu,” it’s more important than ever to make sure you have all the best bases covered when potential consumers are researching your product.

Stories give your network something to talk about. Think about what your favorite social feeds contain: pictures of peoples’ kids, of course. Funny cat videos, gifs of Jennifer Lawrence making faces, sure. They also include stories. Links to news, blogs, op-ed pieces about this story, that product, this election, that person.

Generating social engagement for your brand is still important, because it allows companies to create dialogues and even relationships directly with their consumers, and that’s awesome. But at the end of the day, consumers still know that the person on Facebook saying “This is the greatest product ever, buy it!” is… the person selling the product. So show them that you aren’t alone in thinking your property is the greatest ever, and show them that you aren’t the only one on the Internet talking about it. You can do this with great online PR.

Good online publicity helps yield good publicity everywhere else. Because of the fast-breaking nature of all news on the Internet, it would be easy to put off online outreach as more of a last-minute effort, or treat online coverage as a consolation prize for whatever coverage didn’t happen with traditional outlets. As online PR specialists we’ve been saying for years that digital outreach should be a much higher priority, of course, but now it’s more important than ever. Because the thing is, all of the space that publicists have to compete for with print & broadcast outlets is finite, and these outlets have to be super picky about what they cover. Of course they want something fresh, new and newsworthy that hasn’t been done to death; they also want something with enough online buzz to indicate that their audience will be interested in the story. Early online outreach helps make that buzz happen.

 Partnering with a strong online agency is important because…

They will help you strengthen your favorite media relationships. Most journalists would actually rather talk directly with the company telling the story than the PR flack hired to help tell it. They want to have their own relationship with you and access directly to you. We think this is super fine and, in fact, we encourage it as much or as little as our clients want us to. The fact of the matter is, there are thousands upon thousands of sites and blogs and writers and journalists on the Internet (and a handful of wack-a-dos), and no one person has the time to sift through them all, much less build relationships with all of them. But a team of people dedicated to talking to online outlets every day is fully equipped to handle that volume. So if you want to have a direct dialogue with your friend at The Daily Show, The New York Times or Variety, then you should. Spend your time nurturing the relationships that matter most to you and your brand, leave the sifting & relating to everyone else to your excellent PR agency, like Click.

They will help you measure and quantify your success. As a vendor, we don’t get all of the proprietary click-through data of the sites we work with, or get access to our clients’ sales figures. So can we count up exact clicks and conversions for every campaign we do? Without the data I just mentioned, no. That said, earned media campaigns are totally measurable, and quantifiable success is becoming more and more important to online campaigns. Yes, the simple Word doc or pdf of links & bullets & screenshots looks nice and is easy to read on an executive Blackberry, and we will certainly do that report if that’s what our client prefers. On the other hand, when you collect measurable data along with every campaign you do and organize it in a way that’s easy to analyze, then you don’t just have a thick stack of links and pictures; you have quantifiable proof that your earned media just garnered a huge return on your investment. (At least, that’s the kind of reporting you SHOULD be getting. If you’re not, call me.)

They make your job easier. Do our clients constantly challenge us to break with routine, create new outreach strategies, or present them with the next cutting edge new thing on the Internet? Of course! But we bring new ideas, strategies, partnerships, and “next big things” to them as well, because that’s our job. We feel that a good agency wants to be your collaborative partner, bring ideas to you, present you with creative ideas, and then actually execute on the things they suggest. They should alleviate your workload, not create more work for you. And they should be passionate about your projects, and work with an enthusiasm that might even inspire you—especially in the entertainment and leisure brand industry, because come on. This stuff is FUN!

Of course I’m going to say online PR is extremely important and Click is better at it than anyone; this is my company, this is my job. So don’t take my word for it. See what others are saying about what we’ve been saying for years. You’ll see. This wacky online fun, it’s starting to catch on.

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