What do you know about earned media?
This may stir up a bit of a s**tstorm but here goes anyway.
In the past few weeks I have been doing some basic research about earned media and how it works. Like any average person I jumped on the Google train and started reading some blogs, opinions and papers on what the marketing, communications and PR world considers earned media.
It seemed the likely place to start.
It’s no one trick pony.
Why the heck is an Interior Designer researching earned media?
Well, other than being a curious soul, as an avid blogger I have been asked to participate in a round table discussion in the firm where I work to examine the opportunities of generating media attention for the firm. The firm has a newly minted media strategy and a segment of the strategy involves a media toolkit which is being rolled out to interested participants. I have been asked to address my experience with blogging and how that might benefit the company’s effort to gain media attention.
I was initially invited to a meeting to talk about how earned media would become the catalyst by which our firm demonstrates thought leadership in our industry.
Earned media? Blogging? What?
I am excited by this opportunity so I had to find out what was what.
I realized that I still have a lot to learn.
Well? What conclusions have you drawn?
“Earned media refers to favourable publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising.” said the all knowing sage, Wikipedia.
That’s a pretty broad definition in my mind and some of the articles I read hotly debate the nuances of favourable publicity gained through promotional efforts even though my discussions of late made it pretty clear that the fundamental difference is that if you generate media then the media is not earned.
Ok! So, if it comes from my own devise then it is exactly that; owned.
It has become painfully clear to me that blogging has nothing whatsoever to do with earned media.
It seems that blogging is unequivocally owned media. You create it, you own it and ipso facto you did not earn it.
Plain and simple.
I bet I won’t get much argument there (wink).
But, what if, through the vehicle of social media, someone else writes about the positive impact your contributions through blogging have had on your community?
Is that earned in today’s on-line world?
There are more questions here than answers.
So, now what Mr. Design Guy?
Why the heck am I being asked to talk to people about my blogging and social media experience in the context of earned media?
One thing is for sure though. We really do want the fans.
So, instead of trying to bend my head trying to sort out any correlation between the two my approach is going to be more about my experiences over the past 15 months of blogging. I will leave the media stuff to the media people. The experts, per se.
Like I said. No expert here either way.
The people I am talking to for this round table discussion are folks like me; designers, architects, planners and managers who are all volunteering to help the firm demonstrate thought leadership through sharing their expertise, experience and knowledge. The best approach I can offer is to encourage contributors to relate stories that have impacted their communities, clients and colleagues in a positive way.
Relating Stories, huh?
Yeah, that’s the key.
So, what I can do for these folks is talk to them about the ways I have learned to structured blog posts with a human conversational tone, how to share experience through constructive commenting and how to share their work, the work of others and the impact the content they share has on their reputation and the reputation of the firm.
But first and foremost I plan to talk about telling a story.
How sharing something that holds meaning to them will translate to something the reader can feel. How thinking of their friends and families who know little about the construct of design or architecture will help ground their stories in a way that people can relate to them.
Sure, it’s a soft approach, for now, but it’s the one fundamental thing I have learned in this space and there are many great examples that I can draw on.
Sure, we will follow up on structure, good practice, why your blog headline might suck, how we all struggle with writing, why it’s not ok to treat readers like chumps or how we know if our blogging efforts are having any impact but that’s for later.
I don’t need to talk about SEO, key words or linkbacks because we have people for that.
Get comfortable with content development.
I strongly believe that people should play to their strengths and the strengths of the people in our organization are in architecture and design. We will leave the heavy lifting to the professionals; the communications, social and marketing team who have the expertise to drive the traffic in the appropriate direction and at the appropriate time.
My job is to inspire people to contribute.
Hey, I might just learn something new about this whole game in the process.
Or maybe I already have.
What do you think is the best approach to getting a group of subject matter experts to demonstrate thought leadership in a blogging forum? How would you approach a group of newbie bloggers who have no sense of what they are getting themselves into? What inspires you to blog about your experiences?