How Does Public Relations & Earned Media Work?

Public Relations
Earned Media Explained In Terms We All Can Understand. Copyright WildStory Media 2014

“What do you do?” asked my friend Sean.  We were sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops in Boulder, Amante, chatting over Italian espresso. Nothing out of the ordinary and Sean’s question was one I’ve been hearing a lot lately.

I asked Sean what he meant and he clarified that he understood I was in public relations and that a major component of that was getting media placements for my clients.

“But why does that matter? Why does it work?” Sean wanted to know.

And it’s a great question. I thought about it for a moment and wanting to put it in terms that Sean could related to (he’s one of my bachelor friends).

Imagine a guy, maybe not unlike you, walks into a bar and sees an attractive girl. Maybe it’s THE girl and he wants her to notice him and possibly go out on a first date.  So, he hollers over to her so everyone in the bar can hear.

“Hey!  Look at me!  I’ve got nice hair, nice clothes and a solid job.  Aren’t I just great?!”

As you might expect, the girl looks at him, says “Ewwww” and returns to chatting with her friend. That’s not a great outcome now is it?


Public Relations
Nobody Likes It When You Talk About Yourself


Now let’s set that same scene only it goes differently.

A guy like Sean walks into the bar. But this time he goes over to the bar, orders a drink, and starts talking to the bartender.  This time the girl across the bar has a friend and she notices the guy chatting with the bartender. Maybe she knows the bartender and figures, “Hey if he knows Sean then maybe he’s okay”.  The girlfriend turns to her friend and says:

“Hey, see that guy?  He has nice hair, nice clothes, probably a solid job”

And the original girl says “You’re right. I think I’d like to get to know him better.” And she walks over to introduce herself.


Public Relations
People Trust Their Friends and Word of Mouth (WOM)


I looked at Sean and said, “That’s what we do.”

It’s simple. No one likes it when you talk or shout about how great you are. Whether you’re a person in a bar or a product or service.  But, people love it when someone else tells you that something’s great.  This is third party validation and it’s extremely powerful.  It has more value dollar for dollar than any advertising campaign or any glossy sales slick.

public relations | Boulder Public Relations
This is public relations!

Earned media can take shape in the form of a traditional print article, testimonial, blogs, forums, even social media. Next time you make a purchase based on a magazine article or a recommendation for a friend think about how you viewed that decision. Was their more trust? Was it easier to decided to buy?

Let us know your thoughts on earned media and third party validation.  Join the discussion and leave your comments below.

Lastly, please feel free to contact us directly.  You can always send us a message via our contact form or email me directly at: mgutman at wildstory dot com

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