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27.09.2023 By Pete Jacob, Managing Director, Current Global Middle East

The communications battleground can only be won through earned value.

Statue of King Leonidas in full battle costume against a blue sky.

I had an experience recently where the client communications team felt a new senior executive didn’t see the value in PR. I was briefed to go into battle. To put on my armour. To make my way to the marketing communications front line. To prepare to protect the legacy and honour of earned-first media.

I was prepared and geared up, envisioning myself as a modern-day PR Leonidas with pocket square (though, admittedly, more keg than six-pack).

Turns out that it wasn’t the case at all and the executive, rightly, wanted to discuss how to reach and engage audiences beyond their traditional sweet spot.

It got me thinking, and inspired by the ‘Earned Effect Study’ from The Weber Shandwick Collective and Current Global, it’s important to re-state for anyone questioning or having to defend why an earned-first mindset is now, more than ever, so vital.

In a world where the average person sees between 4,000 and 10,000 ads a day, where nearly 80% of consumers claim to have no brand relationships, where we scroll through miles of content 25/8/366, where people are increasingly choosing to block ads, pay to avoid them or click past them and the majority of us will have personal data covered under some sort of a data privacy regulation in the next year…how can brands win?

The answer is you have to earn it.  That means earning and contributing real value to audiences, people, communities, conversations, society, culture and experiences. So yes with earned media it’s a higher bar. With earned media, the stakes are higher. Can what you have to say be worthy of being part of the conversation and stand out without a paid boost? If it is, then and only then can you earn attention, earn reputation, earn loyalty and earn business.

“They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our… earned media!”

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