Cross-posted from DrugWonks.com
Remember black and white television? Remember when “cable” meant “telegram” and “fax” meant the opposite of “fiction?” Remember when watching a Fox network might get you slapped in polite company and you wore white gloves to a tea party?
“Back in the day” (as my wonderful children would say), “earned media” meant ink (as in “coverage”). And success was measured by “impressions.”
Today, “earned” means “trusted.” And it’s complicated.
In the good old days there were three ways to communicate a brand message: (1) Bought (as in purchased advertising in its various and sundry forms), (2) Owned (annual reports, brochures, sales materials, inter-office communications, etc.), and Earned (that traditional deliverable of the public relations professional), largely done by talking with journalists, by “pitching” them on a story.
Today, bought still means bought. Owned still means owned. But earned means something different. Today “earned” must be considered largely in the context of interactive, real time, opinionated, snarky, and hugely influential social media.
Today earned media is only partially about attracting the attention of the Fifth Estate and mustn’t be primarily measured by “gross impressions.” Today the “New Earned” is measured by its utility for and impact on multiple levels of influencers. Much more difficult to achieve and measure but, when done right, with far more important implications.
And the only way to engage with influencers credibly is to have something interesting to say that adds to their body of knowledge. Contact for the sake of “face time” is deleterious as it defines you as unimportant. Impact with influencers happens when what you have to share is to their benefit — not yours. And that requires a level of focus, acumen and honesty that is always hard and often lacking.
That denizen of Twitter, Ashton Kutcher, opined that, “Social media is for entertaining. So be entertaining.” While this may be true in his demimonde, the truth is different for health care where the rule of thumb should be that “Social media is for educating. So become a trusted source.
How? Add value. Participate in social media to achieve marketing goals? Sure. But primarily to advance the public health. Or don’t bother. The “New Earned” presents regulated industry with a powerful (albeit uncomfortable) opportunity to be First Among Equals. But that position must be, well, earned through active, lively and regular participation.
How to corral and conquer the New Earned? Become a 21st century NEJM — The New Earned Journal of Medicine. Or find yourself a cozy little corner on the communications dust heap of history.