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.