Answering a PRWeek Question on Integration of Paid and Earned Social Media Efforts

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In the December 2010 issue of PRWeek, Jason Shuffler asked five PR pros to answer the question: “How do you integrate paid and earned social media efforts most seamlessly?” and I was one of the virtual panel participants. I am pasting an excerpt below, but if you are a subscriber of PRWeek, you can read the full article here:

“As PR professionals, we’ve all had to explain to our own parents – on numerous occasions, no doubt – how we do not work in advertising or paid media, but we actually get paid to help clients ‘earn’ media.”

Going back to our marketing classes, let’s remember an ideal integrated marketing communications program includes consistent, well-crafted messages brought to your audience through various communications tools, earned and paid social media being among the most prominent.

The key word once those messages have been identified is: integrate. One way of integrating earned media with paid social media is simply to include the results of earned media into your paid media efforts. Promote that great product review, feature article, or award through your social media ads. Third-party validation is also important to your audience. If you are paying to reach that audience through any form of advertising, you want to share what others are saying about you.

The opposite works as well. Post information on Twitter or a Facebook page about your latest webcast or YouTube educational video. You might be surprised how much attention it can get, assuming that, through your earned media efforts, you built a loyal audience that now trusts you and pays attention to your posts.

The same advice we gave clients when we were only exposed to “traditional media” applies to social media: don’t just “sell” your product or service. You need to educate potential customers and show them how your product or service could solve specific problems. They will come back to find out more.”