You can call it advertising, marketing or public relations, but there is a commonality to all the things we do in this business. It’s about communicating.

We live in a world where we take a client’s message and find ways to communicate that message to their target audience. PR is a part of that world and that world is changing. And it’s changing quickly.

That was one of the big takeaways from a conference I attended last week conducted by the Agency Management Institute. Agency owners and public relations directors got together for two days in Denver to about talk how we can better serve the public relations needs of our clients.

Earned media is a way of spreading a client’s message without paying for it through advertising. It is a critical way for a company to earn the public’s trust and figuring out the right way to do that is what public relations is all about. It is an art and a skill based on knowing your way around the various media outlets that can help you effectively communicate a message. Just knowing the channels to go through is not good enough; you have to have relationships.

And that gets us to our question, where do the words come from?

Newspapers are in crisis, faced with a defining moment in their industry. USA Today cut 60 to 70 jobs in September after its parent company, Gannett, reported that advertising revenue from its chain of 82 newspapers dropped 5.2 percent from the previous year. Until they figure out how to better mine revenue streams from the Internet, newspapers will struggle to reverse the trend of staff cuts that have left editorial staffs stretched. They don’t have enough writers to write the stories they used to cover.

On line publications and bloggers don’t usually have large staffs or research teams to help them produce enough articles that are interesting and informative to the followers they want to cultivate. On the other end, many businesses that have traditionally had their own marketing people to do some of their PR have seen those positions fall victim to budget cuts.

That’s where we come in.

We tie it all together by supporting in-house marketing directors or filling the void for clients with no PR contact. We identify the media channels where a client’s message will resonate and then work those channels by making sure editors and writers have the copy they want in the way they want it. It could be an article in a newspaper or on-line publication, a longer magazine piece or a blog.

Full service agencies like EVR do PR as a matter of course –which, in our case, is since when we opened our doors 25 years ago – we’re just doing more of it.

It’s a good thing we have that experience. The buzz at the Denver conference is that the competition for earned media is intense and everyone is trying to find ways to get a share of that market for their clients.

We do it through words, with well-crafted stories that entice editors to move those stories to the head of a growing line. Editors are trying to weed through stacks of pitches, with fewer writers to assign stories, less time to edit those stories and shrinking space to run them. A clean story with editorial balance is attractive and can often find its way into a publication in print or on line.

It’s no longer acceptable to send out releases to a mass mailing list with hopes of someone picking it up. “Spray and Pray” is the term I heard one colleague use. Those prayers rarely get answered. The way to do it is to thoughtfully identify the right media and then present them with a good story. Tell it the right way and you have a good chance to get your client’s message sent through that channel.

There’s opportunities on TV and radio and, of course, paid advertising, but the printed word always seems to find its ways on to the Internet to drive the search engines that help boost brands and spread the message.

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