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Kellye Crane

Excellent food for thought here. Lately I've been pondering the need for all marketers to move beyond our current spheres and find new bedfellows. I agree that blended media is the way forward, and for it to have the biggest impact I think we’ll need to re-examine our roles.

I recently spoke to a digital agency rep who is now doing crisis communication plans for clients to prepare for any social media disasters. As a PR person this surprised me – and it’s an example where two previously disparate disciplines could partner to deliver a blended media approach.

I'm also intrigued by the reference in Pete's quote above to "resource and spending allocations." I heard a presentation by an Internet marketing consultant wo stated they didn't use the phrase "earned media," since that would call to mind public relations and PR-level budgets. As traditional advertising plays a more limited role, perhaps there is room for PR to step in through blended media approaches and get a bigger piece of the pie. Thanks for getting me thinking!

Kevin Dugan

Kellye - Thanks for joining in here. Resource and spending allocations do raise a good point about how we approach this. Coming in and taking a completely purist earned approach makes perfect sense to me. But telling a client that "we'll take longer and some will post, some won't. Oh and some posts will be good, some will be bad but over time we'll be well-respected" is well-intended, but it doesn't usually get people reaching for a pen to sign the p.o.

Blended does not take this thinking out of the equation. But it does start to frame up strategies differently.

On digital agency, I think people need to remember that social media overlaps multiple disciplines. At my job, social media lives in our word of mouth discipline. This reflects our belief that social media is ultimately earned media. But we include the digital team in our client projects as relevant. Depending on how client's are structured PR, marketing and digital should all be at the table. This might be three or more people, it might be less than that. But those circles at a minimum need to be on the same page regardless of which one owns it.

Thanks again.

Brian LeCount

Perhaps this also points to a greater need for a new marketing model, one that in Bob Gilbreath's words, "consumers choose to engage with and in and of itself improves their lives". This is the basis of Bob's new book "The Next Evolution of Marketing: Connecting with Consumers by Marketing with Meaning". It's a great read and I highly recommend it. Download a free chapter today only at http://www.BridgeWorldwide.com

Michael E. Rubin

The more I think about it, the more I really like this term "Blended Media." Like you, I used to think almost exclusively in terms of paid OR earned. But I've really come to believe that the blended approach is one that takes into account the best of all worlds. Paid is a quick and sometimes simpler way to reach a large audience very quickly. Earned is a more organic approach that promotes engagement in a deeper, more meaningful way. They both have merits that can and should be part of any integrated campaign.


Disclaimer: I work with Kevin at Empower MediaMarketing. This is my opinion.

Kevin Dugan

Michael - Thx for the comment and the disclaimer. And my hope is by defining blended we can address some of the issues clients face with social media and building support for programs internally.


I used to be a journalist, and like you and Michael, I've always thought about paid and earned media as two completely separate things. In my years as a PR professional, I've become increasingly aware of how they really are interconnected and "feed" off of each other. I've never really thought of describing that fuzzy area in between as "blended" media, but it now that I do, it makes complete sense. It completely changes the framework of how to allocate spending and approach communications challenges. It will be interesting to see where this all takes us!

Thanks for the article, Kevin!

Kevin Dugan

Thanka Inga. As we try and deal with the paradox of client business needs (timely results) and social media concepts (organic takes time, a 401-k vs a lottery), I think blended will better define itself. It's a slippery slope when you count for things like IZEA that are trying to juice the system. But I think there are some credible, FTC-complying ideas in between paid and earned that should be explored.

Jim Bowman

Kevin - good think piece. The tools and names have changed, but the idea of striking a blend of paid and earned media isn't new. More often than not, I've been part of communications departments that have taken an integrated approach to paid and earned by having advertising/marketing and PR people working collaboratively instead of competitively, jointly developing strategies, tactics and messages.

The big difference now is the convergence taking place, as ad agencies, PR firms, SEO firms and corporate departments increasingly come at issues from different perspectives, using the same tools, reaching overlapping audiences. We have to be careful to build bridges instead of fences.

What I find esoecially fascinating about the convergence taking place now is that it is enabling small businesses to play on the same field as the big guys.

Kevin Dugan

>>The big difference now is the convergence taking place, as ad agencies, PR firms, SEO firms and corporate departments increasingly come at issues from different perspectives, using the same tools, reaching overlapping audiences. We have to be careful to build bridges instead of fences.<<

I think the overlapping circles/disciplines is definitely the big difference. Integration of those silos has always been a challenge. Now there are simply more silos.

>>What I find esoecially fascinating about the convergence taking place now is that it is enabling small businesses to play on the same field as the big guys.<<

Definitely a game changer. Will be fun to watch what happens next. Thanks Jim!


Great post and support for blended marketing campaigns (and agencies).

Sarah Morgan

I agree this is what's happening and what should happen.

But agencies that aren't blended are going to fight this kicking and screaming unless they can figure out how to survive.

What would you say to them?

Kevin Dugan

To the agencies that are not blended I would suggest they partner. They probably won't want to do that either. But it beats losing out entirely.

Michael J Lis

Kevin - great post and I really like the model from Pete. I too for a long time have tried to keep Paid Media apart from Earned media. My thinking behind this was simply because customers, users and listeners could easily decipher between the two and if they were inter-mixed (with Blended Media) then the whole Earned Media campaign or strategy would suffer - and trust would be gone.

I'm trying to change my thoughts on this. I think the examples that you point to are very valid, I would also add the Best Buy example of using Paid Media commercials to promote the Twelpforce (Twitter support tactic).

I really believe that the "boxes" on all the models and presentations out there are going to change.

In the next couple of years we are going to enter a world where marketing, not just branding exists in the hands of the public. By this I mean - the public will control the brand, the marketing and the final direction that an organization begins with. Why? Because now there are too many tools / channels for customers to make their voices heard.

I think right now, strategy firms, PR firms and thought leaders in PR and social media are trying to build models that define the guidelines for social media - we are doing this in part so that there's something to sell to companies, but the truth of the matter is that there are no precise models that can describe what happens when social media is involved. An Earned Media strategy can go in so many different directions.

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