Where can communicators maximize the value of earned media? Carolina Lopez Herz, Senior Vice President & General Manager of 5WPR Miami, highlights the importance of having a good sense of the media landscape beyond traditional channels. Carolina also shares examples from the world of crypto where active conversations are taking place on new and emerging platforms.
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HOST: DOUG SIMON
GUEST: CAROLINA LOPEZ HERZ
DOUG: Is earning media still important?
CAROLINA: I think after the last two days, I was just at the Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami Beach. So, right in my backyard. I would say a resounding yes. And it’s kind of ironic that you ask that out of a person in PR because like we would all say, of course, earned media still important, but of course, we’re doing so many other things. And the reason the last two days just really proved to me how important it is, is I was having so many different conversations with many different players. And if you can imagine what a Bitcoin conference looks like, the people that have been in it since the start are really true believers in Bitcoin as that cryptocurrency. And then there’s like the suit and ties, the people that come from financial services, background investment managers. And what the common theme in all of my conversations was that this industry is really struggling with educating audiences. And what does earning media do better than educating audiences, right? Like that is exactly what we intend to do when we work with clients is to help them educate audiences.
DOUG: How computer agencies maximize the value of the earned media work they do.
CAROLINA: Well, I think at 5W especially, it’s, it’s at the core of what our agency does, right? Like it’s really a truly earned first agency. I think crypto is a really great example of an industry that is super complex, very difficult to layout in layman’s terms and understand Tier one media what we call Tier one. It’s like the tech crunch areas of the world and the place where they want to be are covering it, but they’re probably only scratching the surface because clients are having a harder time explaining what they do. So, I think a really valuable thing that we’re doing, and I can only speak to the example of where I work, is having a really good sense of the media landscape and not just traditional media. If you look at crypto, there are so many conversations happening in channels on Reddit and Discord on these new platforms popping up. So, it’s having a really good sense of like where the community and the industry is talking, what they’re reading, and then how do we translate that to the general public, and how can we tell a good story, and how do we bring those really in-depth technical stories to life for general populations that are just diving into the crypto industry?
DOUG: And when we talk about general population, something we’ve been advocating in the crypto space is there’s an opportunity for one company to be the thought leader, the one translating it to the general public so they can understand there’s a huge demand, even like local TV morning show with the satellite media world that we live in, to cover that with someone who can actually explain it and give some clarity to their viewers who care so much about it but may not understand. It will be interesting to see which company really jumps in on that opportunity because it’s a huge open playing field. What are some of the nuances involved in being successful in the current media space?
CAROLINA: It’s funny, I was talking to someone outside of the industry and you know, when we talk to others outside of the industry, we usually kind of layout like we do media relations there. We’re speaking to the media, and they said a word that I never had heard describe media relations. It’s like, oh, you’re a broker, right? Like your broker between your client and reporters, or your clients and journalists, your clients in the media, and yes, we’re brokers, right? Like for sure, part of our rules is to take the story from the client and take it to the reporter, or the journalist, or the publication. But there’s so much more that goes into being that broker, right? We have a really good sense of how media is covering topics, how to pitch reporters. We also really need to have a really good understanding of the industries we’re covering. We do a lot on my end, B2B and corporate work that is very technical. Our people also have to have a good understanding of the technical aspects of our clients and be able to translate that to media.
DOUG: Yeah, and I think a lot of people watching this who are in the media space will really like your use of the word “broker” and hope that their W2s start looking like the W2s of stockbrokers. It is pretty challenging. You’re saying we’re brokers and we’re turning to the business side of the discussion. You’ve worked at large agencies, mid-sized agencies, and you’ve had to open up an office. With the PR industry doing so well right now for a lot of companies, you’re looking at expanding, opening a new office. Any advice for people from your experience? Maybe we’ll start with things to do and then we can go to things to avoid. So, what are some things to do when opening up a new office?
CAROLINA: I think the biggest learning and I’ve been here for three and a half months, so we’re pretty fresh in opening the office here in Miami. I think thinking about like, what does it take to scale an agency, right? So, these large agencies, they’re the size they got big because they’re they were able to understand what processes and systems they needed in place to scale the work that they do. Mid-sized agencies have incredible talent and of course, some processes that have gotten to where they are, but not all of them, right? So, I come at it with a perspective like I don’t want to copy and paste what’s been done right, because that’s not the right model and it might not necessarily fit. There’s a lot of value in the scrappiness of the mid-sized agency, but like really understanding what are the choke points in this in this mid-sized agency, and when we’re opening an office that is allowing us to grow, what learnings can I take from the big agencies and the systems that they put in place to scale? And then how can we create our own awesome, agile culture and continue to grow and scale?
DOUG: Now that’s really awesome insights from the idea of scaling. How about the reverse? Is there anything now that you’re at the mid-sized firm, and you’ve had experience with both, that maybe you’d want to bring back to the larger firms so they can keep what they do to scale, but still have that sort of scrappy, entrepreneurial mindset?
CAROLINA: When you work in small agencies, there’s a collaboration and a roll up your sleeves mentality at every level that sometimes gets lost in the bigger sized agencies, just because you don’t have access to all of the thinking and all of the people. So, I think there’s an access, an understanding of what others are doing that could be valuable to your teams that are really awesome to see at the mid-sized agency that there are ways to bring that back to big agency life.
DOUG: Yeah, and bringing the full circle back, is there a way that what you learned at the earned media side with its scrappy culture with seems to be more effective for an earned media mindset in earning media for clients. Is there a way the larger agencies can also bring that earned media approach back?
CAROLINA: I come from an earned first agency for sure, and I think that that’s the mentality that big agencies drive. Look, I think to grow in scale, you need to understand paid, you need to understand digital, social, you need to insert analytics into that, into the work that you’re doing. So, for sure, there’s extreme value to be able to develop every single component of a communications campaign in a way that only large agencies can really do. But that earned first approach, and like the mentality, and the thinking of like what’s going to get our clients headlines? Like, who are the reporters that are covering and how are they covering it? And if that’s the starting point for your campaign, you can be that much more successful at the other pieces instead of seeing it just like this is an integrated comms campaign and we’re going to do all these things. I think an earned first approach first would be, you know, my ideal anywhere actually.
DOUG: That sounds great. And Carolina, as the guest on our 150th show, you’ve definitely put the learning information out there for the people who are watching this. Thanks so much and continued success.
CAROLINA: Thank you. Thank you for having me, and congrats on 150.