By Jo Trizila, President & CEO, TrizCom Public Relations
I swear I would like to strangle the person who coined the phrase “earned media is free.” Yes, it is true in a technical sense, as one doesn’t pay for placement in earned media per se. But it is anything but free. In any major earned media placement, I can almost guarantee you hours and hours of time went into securing the story.
To highlight my case in point, below is a typical exchange with a journalist from a tier-one publication and my team:
As a team we brainstorm the various story angles we can play with for the client.
We think of the outlets where the story angles would mesh.
We research the reporters who would be appropriate to pitch the angles.
We circle back around with the client and brief them on our thought process.
We draft a pitch.
We deliver the pitch via email.
We follow up with the journalist.
The journalist bites at one part of our pitch but subsequently takes it in another direction.
We revise our pitch and resubmit.
We schedule a call with the journalist to discuss.
The journalist would like a sample of the product.
We contact the client with mailing details, so they can arrange a sample to be sent to the journalist.
We arrange for the journalist to speak with the client.
We draft talking points for our client.
We send the journalist the client’s press kit.
We monitor the interview.
We send the journalist answers to his or her follow-up questions.
We arrange for the outlet’s photographer to come take photos.
We answer more questions from the journalist.
The journalist has now requested an interview with a customer.
We contact the client to get a customer.
We contact the customer and see if they are interested in speaking with XYZ outlet. Turns out, they are not.
We go back to the client and ask for another customer.
We arrange for the journalist and the new customer to talk.
We arrange for the photographer to photograph the customer.
The reporter has another question, or two or three, that need answering.
We work with the client to get the questions answered.
The journalist emails a few details that need fact-checking.
The journalist then emails and lets us know that the story will be published. Four months from today.
Of course, I say all this a bit sarcastically, but the above 29 items are not out of the ordinary. We recently worked on a national placement and I kid you not, over 50 emails were exchanged with dozens of phone calls.
Now, do you think earned media is free?