Earned VS Paid Advertisement – How they Compare Side-by-Side

By Mark Macias

No one wants to spend $3,000 on advertising only to discover later that it didn’t result in any new business, so let’s take a closer look at how earned media (PR) compares to paid media (advertising).

This comparison involves an actual nonprofit client that MACIAS PR has worked with for the last 4 years. The ad data is from public sources for advertising rates.

How Much Does a 30 Second Commercial Cost?

According to Golden State Media Concepts, a 30-second TV commercial on a local newscast in Phoenix will cost you between $500 to $3000. The variation comes from different factors: what time the ad ran, how popular the newscast is with viewers, current inventory, etc. Keep in mind, that is the cost for only one 30-second commercial. When the ad is over, it doesn’t replay.

Now, let’s compare this to PR. The above live segment actually ran last month on the 11am newscast for ABC15. The live segment was 2:30 and it gave our nonprofit client an opportunity to promote their upcoming VA Housing Summit.

We’ll split the difference and say a commercial on this newscast cost $1250 for 30 seconds. Since this news segment lasted 2:30 seconds, from a time perspective, it was equivalent to five 30-second commercials. That means this marketing initiative would have cost $6250 as an advertising buy.

Earned Media – The Fine Print

In addition to that live segment, MACIAS PR secured a story in the Arizona Republic that also talked about this upcoming VA Housing Summit. We also secured a radio segment on KTAR where this same spokesperson told veterans listening to the radio in their cars about this upcoming VA Summit.

All-in-all, our team secured a TV segment, a radio segment and a story in the state’s largest newspaper under this earned media campaign. But here’s the fine print. Not all PR firms deliver the same media placements. This is why it’s your job to research your PR firm before you hire them to run your earned media campaign. Click here to read more on our nonprofit track record with the media.

You can also read a white paper we conducted on earned media vs paid media by clicking here.

Macias PR was named the 2015 and 2016 top PR Firm of the Year – USA by Finance Monthly. The founder – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.