At WordWrite, we’re hesitant to label ourselves strictly a “PR” agency, because that doesn’t describe the full scope of value we provide to our clients.

If you need a label for us, we prefer collaborative terms — trusted advisors, partners or strategic communications consultants.

Labels can be confusing and insufficient sometimes. For example, a press release isn’t “PR.” It’s one basic tool to help achieve results as part of a broader earned media strategy that includes connecting with reporters at media outlets and the creation of other types of content that carry an organization’s messages to key audiences.


Likewise, “earned media” is just one component of a comprehensive communications effort that should deliver a return on your investment – whether you’re looking to drive sales, engage employees or mobilize a community around an issue.

To get real ROI from your communication efforts, we advise our clients to follow the “PESO” model, an acronym for a customized mix of Paid, Earned, Social and Owned media that’s continuously adjusted to drive results. In a classic marketing scenario, this means identifying leads and converting them into clients or customers through that mix of strategies.

In recent years, the multipronged PESO approach is more often replacing “classical advertising” methods such as print, radio and television spots.

A recent Outsell Earned Media Opportunity study highlights the significant shift in attitudes among chief marketing officers.

Key findings from CMOs who took the survey include:

  • Audiences view earned media as the most authentic form of marketing;
  • Earned media was ranked either more effective or just as effective as paid media by 81 percent of small marketers and 73 percent of larger firms;
  • Paid, owned, and earned media are used in tandem with one another.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the study is how it distinguishes between “traditional” and “digital” marketing methods. Instead of categorizing native advertising, sponsored content and content marketing alongside more “classical” advertising methods (like those increasingly deemed less effective by the CMOs who took the survey), the study categorizes this type of content as digital, not paid.

In fact, many of the marketers surveyed identified native advertising as one of their most effective “earned” media strategies.

The point here is – no matter whether content marketing is defined as paid or earned – marketing strategies have shifted away from classic advertising toward longer form, authentic storytelling methods that historically have been the domain of the PR industry.

This evolution isn’t a surprise when 72 percent of the CMOs surveyed said one of the biggest problems in achieving their objectives was “identifying and engaging with the right prospects at the right time.”

Traditional “push marketing” efforts no longer move the needle for organizations as they did in the past.

That disparity will only continue to grow as Millennials make up more of the audience for organizations seeking to move hearts and minds: The survey found that earned media is rated as much more effective by marketers under 40 than by those over 55.

In our experience, a comprehensive and effective strategic communications approach incorporates a combination of paid, earned, social and owned (PESO) media.

The future of effective marketing communications is in the hands of those who can reach the right audiences, in the right spaces with the right content – or what we often describe as inbound marketing.

Feel free to call it what you’d like: earned media, sponsored content, content marketing or native advertising.

As I said earlier, we’re not too big on labels.

We’re more focused on what will move the needle for your business, company or organization.

Want to learn more about how to move the needle for your organization? Start by downloading our Excel template to help you set goals that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.