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Hollywood Realizes Benefits of “Earned” Versus “Paid” Media

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The New York Times picked up on the “earned” versus “paid” media debate this weekend, notably that a lot of major marketers — the Times story focused on the film and entertainment industry — are realizing that they can get a lot more “bang for their buck” by eschewing large national ad campaigns in favor of savvy, scrappy PR campaigns.

The story lets us know that Disney — along with many brands — is still using ad equivalency reports:

Disney recently went so far as to develop a computer program to help it determine how much monetary value was coming from such publicity efforts. It can quickly plug in data – “Access Hollywood” had a 30-second interview with a star of “The Middle,” a new ABC comedy – and the program spits out what that same 30 seconds would cost to buy.

Universal Pictures makes Thrillist’s recent junket look minor league:

Universal Pictures, looking for a way to bolster coverage of “Couples Retreat,” a comedy starring Vince Vaughn about an island vacation, decided to stage a lavish junket, one of those all-expenses-paid promotion-a-thons for writers and TV reporters. Instead of hosting the event at a Los Angeles or New York hotel, as is standard practice, Universal flew the participants to Bora Bora. It cost about twice as much as a standard junket, but generated at least four times as much media coverage, the studio estimated.

Equally revealing, although not surprising:

If the P.R. team for the company’s ABC unit can land an article about “Dancing With the Stars” on the cover of TV Guide, for instance, the network will make certain not to also buy advertising space in that issue to push the show.

Certainly, the “filter” readers believe a story has to go through, gives editorial coverage more credibility than an advertisement, which anyone can buy. This is a message the PR industry has been trying to plant for sometime: we’re cheaper and more effective than advertising.

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