I had a meeting this morning with a prospect. She said something that was spot on, "Public relations is becoming more public."

I think what she meant by that is that we're not just interacting with the media anymore. We're communicating directly with the consumer in many instances on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. We're creating our own content but allowing consumers to participate, too.

When it comes to content, most outlets will talk about the Big 4, Earned, Owned, Paid and Shared:

Earned Content: This is the most basic form of traditional media relations. MLMC creates pitch. MLMC sends pitch to reporter. MLMC convinces reporter he loves the pitch. Story is generated.

Owned/Placed Content: This is content generated by MLMC or the client and can be used for bylined articles, op-ed pieces, blog posts or anywhere we can place content verbatim.

Paid Content: Put simply, these are ads or sponsorships. Many larger outlets (think Ellen, Better Homes & Gardens, etc.) now have income-generating editorial spots in place. To the general public, nothing seems out of place or different than the earned content.

Shared Content: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. Any site that works by encouraging interaction and participation directly with consumers results in shared content because it's a shared effort. Hint: Paid and Owned Media can inspire Shared Media. Shared Media can inspire Earned Media.

In reality, there's a 5th category. Call it Blended Content. Much of social media is moving to this “blended” concept: a mix of paid and earned content. Social media needs to be organic, yes, but sometimes this growth is more of a slow burn. We want results faster. So, we turn to sponsored content. Blended media is, in effect, paid content with earned content results.

PR plans work best when there's a combination of all at play. We've been outlining this content approach with our clients since 2009. Now that big agencies are jumping on board (see this New York Times article about recent changes at FleishmanHillard), we'll soon see a new crop of what Gini Dietrich calls "hybrid communicators."  But, just like she says: if you submit your resume to us, you best already have a good understanding of how each of these works together.