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Fenella Cuthbert

Account Executive London

PR, marketing and advertising face different challenges. We are seeing an increase in consumer indifference to paid media as trust in businesses and brands dwindles. Transparency is having a transformative effect on consumers, with many now believing that adverts do not play a part in their purchase choices.

2016 played a pivotal role in changing the media landscape, with trust moving away from the traditional experts. Economic and political analysts consistently got it wrong and trust in celebrities has also continued to decline on the barometer. This, coupled with transparency and the rise of fake news, has meant consumers are sceptical, most notably in the world of Facebook where news content is increasingly dismissed.

Paid media is facing increasing difficulties. 37% of people have used an ad-blocker in the last month, while nearly half will consider using one in the future. Fewer people own televisions, we are increasingly time-poor, and expect consumption to be instantaneous, which means adverts are becoming more tedious than ever. Even YouTube has decided to ditch un-skippable ads, while Amazon Prime and Netflix will reach nearly 10 million UK households by 2020. When considering how much brands and businesses pay for advertising, coupled with the consumer’s depleting trust in ads, it seems businesses need to change tactics: converged media is the new reality.

80% of senior marketers believe earned media is as or more effective than paid media. It runs in line with the fact that 78% of people trust recommendations from people they know in comparison to only 46% who trust ads on social networks.

PR just makes sense. Not only does it prove credibility, but earned media is the cheapest of the three media types to utilise and increase. A low investment can reap a large return, compared to advertising which is a considerable investment.

Of course, earned media comes with its own challenges. While adverts can almost guarantee how many people will walk past, say, a tube ad, earned media is far more unpredictable. Journalists are often subjective and news moves incredibly quickly, meaning no guarantee of coverage or reach, or indeed the messages you really want. This scares off many businesses from investing in the earned space.

All in all, there is often a disconnect between advertising, PR and marketing, but it should be used together for maximum impact. PR should be the driver, forming the credible basis of the brand or business from which this reputation can be grown by owned and paid media.


All statistics are taken from a Gorkana webinar titled The rise of earned media on 22 February 2017. Speakers: Patrick Barrett, MD at Simpatico PR and Tom Ritchie, Cision’s EMEA product and marketing director. Click here to watch the webinar

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