Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Created vs. Earned: Steve Rubel asks when "created" media will outshine the "earned" media that has traditionally been PR's bread and butter. Steve specifically mentions "podcasts, blogs, vidcasts and the like" as examples of "created" media, but in one sense advertising is "created" (by the company paying for it) too. What makes the new "created" media forms for which Steve is such a passionate advocate so different?

The answer is, not much, unless they invite feeback, response, and conversation. A podcast that simply conveys the message the company wants to convey is nothing more than an ad delivered via an iPod rather than a TV screen -- unless it's designed to be different. And the medium is not what makes it different; the content is.

If we use these new media for controlled messages--the kind companies have always prefered--then we have a new toy, but we haven't done anything to change the way we play. What makes these new media truly exciting is that we can use them to change the rules of the game, to surrender control and in exchange gain credibility--the most valuable currency of all in a media-saturated message-proliferated environment.

That means we don't create the media. We might initiate a conversation, or engage an audience, but if it's going to take advantage of the ability of these new media to deliver something powerful (and just as credible as "earned" media) that conversation must be allowed to take on a life of its own. It's organic. It's free-flowing. It has multiple contributors rather than a single creator.

So my answer is, "created" media (how about "engaged" media?) will outshine earned media when the creators learn to let go of their creation and allow it to become the property of entire community. And most companies are still reluctant to surrender that control. They still fear the unpredictability of conversation and collaboration. Until that changes, they will never realize the potential of these new media.


  • At 12:16 AM, Blogger Mike Bawden said…


    I commented on Steve's blog earlier this evening about this but throw it out to your readers for comment, as well ...

    Is this future, "created" media to be just a reincarnation of the early days of television and radio when sponsors not only paid for the programming, they created it as well?

    I think you're on to something when you say companies need to think of themselves as "initiating" a conversation with customers through the media rather than controlling the message, its distribution and consumption (in the old model). But maybe the answer isn't to be found exclusively in one medium, but rather in the combined use of several.

    For example, maybe best use of the mediums at our disposal is to use the more traditional, mass media vehicles like television, radio and newspaper to stimulate discussion and use the social media vehicles to segment and engage on a more personal level. Social media seems to work best on a very small level (I'm not sure how social it is to be one of hundreds of comments on a blog post), and I don't think there's a blogger out there who's figured out a good way to meet the needs of a large audience using a tool like a blog without defaulting to a one-directional model (ref. Seth Godin who doesn't even allow comments on his blog).

    I'll keep my eyes open and keep watching your blog (among many others) until I can find someone who accomplishes that task. The challenge, of course, is there aren't that many bloggers who can attract and entice that size of an audience into a conversation.

    Thanks again for the insightful posts.


    Mike Bawden
    Brand Central Station

  • At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Quite right. It's the same reason we're trying to teach our clients to stop asking us to "target" bloggers.

    Talk to them, sure, but as you say, that's a pretty scary concept for companies used to controlling their message.

  • At 3:22 PM, Blogger ManeyDigital said…

    I like where Mike is going with using the traditional mass media to initiate the conversation. We've seen a version of this before: Remember when URLs were added to everything an eyeball could see? Well, the websites have grown up.

  • At 12:49 PM, Blogger Kami Huyse said…

    I really like your use of the term, "engaged media." I think it is right on. I am using it in my post today.

    On a related topic, I agree with John Wagner that you need to add trackbacks to your site. I also have a blogger site and I used the free Haloscan service to do it. It isn't perfect, but it works.

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