PR And Media Sales: Worlds Colliding

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, August 12, 2016
The media business, in the face of competition from Facebook and Google, is fighting for attention, eyeballs and advertising dollars.  And the challenges facing media sellers are becoming increasingly more complex, as our focus shifts from targeting audience “segments” to reaching individuals.  How can marketers and media brands continue to serve and succeed?

A large public relations agency asked me to join a panel on “storytelling.”  As with other sectors in the media industry, the business of public relations has new challenges, too.  This particular agency wanted to hear about paid posts and branded content, why advertisers want them, and why they’re so important to media companies.  

The PR agency is seeing a shift: More and more often, brands are opting to pay for stories (branded content and thought leadership marketing) rather than pitching stories (as part of more traditional PR).  One brand on the panel said it no longer creates press releases (except at earnings time).  The focus is on making news in creative, fun ways.  This, in turn, drives earned media.



Or, brands pay for the right to publish and show the world why their company is cool.  They try to be first in many things -- like virtual reality digital advertising -- but also aim to be interesting and relevant, earning attention from as many individuals as possible.  This new way to promote works beyond PR -- and should be a goal for digital advertising and social sellers, too.

As the worlds of advertising, PR, social, mobile and all-digital businesses continue to evolve, there’s a lesson for media sellers:  Do things that help and earn your audience.  Be relevant and let the audience control the amplification.  That requires trust -- and won’t always be 100% positive.  But if you have the confidence to trust your audience, and really provide value, they will respond.

I see too many media sellers forgetting this lesson.  We on the supply side (media, sales, marketing) tend to focus on the technology powering our “reach.”  We talk about the new, shiny things advertisers can buy.  We talk about discovery of content and ads, all the promotional elements, the streams, native ads, headlines -- the tonnage that will make the ad succeed.

While these aspects are significant, every time we can turn them around to the consumer’s viewpoint, we should have more success.  That’s more than reach; media companies serve their audiences.  And, today, it’s better to think of more than “your audience” -- but rather, the “individuals” you’re serving.  Those individuals have choices about where they get information.  Be relevant, focus on matching what they need and want with what your company does well, and you’ll see more success.

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  1. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, August 12, 2016 at 4:26 p.m.

    There is a big piece of this competition between PR and Media that is missing. This is Google. Why? started to write PR stories about our big winners back in 2010.  These stories took us to page one and first spot in the Google Search rankings.

    In 2013 Google Search’s Panda algorithm was changed to downgrade PR greatly to the point that we could only write one PR story per month and beyond that, the extra PR stories would hurt our ranking. 

    What was oblivious was Google and Google Search was limiting competition from the PR agencies. Then there was a push for Native Ads and Video, especially Google’s YouTube.

    So when the PR distribution company’s sales person called me, we talked about this Google Search change. He didn’t have an answer other than to limit the number of new PR stories per month.

    So the question you should be asking is; who gave Google the right to change the status quo?

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