There are many differences between guaranteed and earned placements. The first and most important being that guaranteed placements are advertisements where money is exchanged between service companies and stations. Second, earned media placements run in news and public affairs programming and guaranteed placements run between newscasts and advertising segments. Third, guaranteed placements have less credibility or value than earned placements, since they fall into a station’s advertising lineup, rather than programming content.We do not buy time on radio networks or stations. Rather, we pitch reporters and program directors, and they determine whether to use a story in their newscasts or talk shows based on the content of the story, not because they are being paid to run it. Therefore, the placement or usage of a story depends on its news value and the current news issues of the day. Earned media placements have greater value than ”guaranteed” placements, because when pitching a story, editors evaluate the content by relevance to the demographic. This filtering process eliminates the weaker stories, which adds more value to the stories that are run. In fact, an industry standard that reflects that difference is that public relations value is between 2.5 and 3 times that of advertising when calculating listener impact.Guaranteed placement does indeed guarantee that a story will be broadcast, but it will not be broadcast where strong stories should be — in the content of news and talkshows. Knowing the difference between earned media audience and “guaranteed” or advertising audience is key. Just because a placement is guaranteed to broadcast does not mean it will impact the audience the same way earned media does.

posted by Lynn Harris Medcalf