Two New Arrows for Your Public Relations Quiver

Barbara Bates
Barbara Bates

In the current climate nearly every media property is looking at new ways to generate revenue beyond traditional ad dollars. Two key areas we’re seeing media properties invest in are face-to-face events and native advertising (or branded content). As the PR field continues to undergo dramatic change, communicators should consider how they can broaden their approach beyond traditional reporting and take advantage of these two new ways to engage with the media.

SET THE STAGE

Many publishers are launching events this year. In the tech world, for example, we’ve seen new face-to face events from The Wall Street Journal, IDG, Bloomberg and many other major media outlets.

Reporters obviously are covering news and information that breaks at these events; the Journal produces special summaries of events it hosts that are folded into its daily newspaper.

But, more important, reporters and editors create content for the events and often are headliners. Your information may not show up on the pages of the publication, but it could very well make its way into event content.

Aiming to have a presence at events sometimes is an afterthought, yet considering the highly targeted audience, it should be part of an overall strategy.

That means it’s not only a good idea to media train your spokespeople, but to develop interesting speakers who can deliver compelling thought leadership while on stage during an event.

THE FOLLOW-THROUGH

Another opportunity provided via industry events is the spreading of information via social media.

Often, events are hotbeds of “live journalism.” Socially active audiences tend to “report” at events, amplifying what is said on stage.

Again, reporters who work for these publishers may not write an article about your company from what they hear at an event. However, if content is compelling enough, journalists and others will most likely share excerpts with their followers.

Add to that the hundreds—or potentially thousands—of attendees with access to social channels, and you could have a significant opportunity to influence your customers directly.

Publishers, such as IDG, who are increasing their investment in face-to-face events are hiring people with titles like VP of Marketing and Content and Chief Content Officer. This means there probably are several inroads into speaker placement.

Media Survey CEO Sam Whitmore’s advice to agencies is to develop specific expertise in not only spotting key events, but also understanding whom to pitch to put your client in the spotlight.

The other area publishers are investing in as a way to recoup diminishing revenue from traditional ad spending is native advertising. While there is a lot of experimentation occurring, it appears that native advertising is here to stay.

According to IPG Media Lab, native ads are viewed for the same amount of time as editorial content and are much more likely to be shared than a banner ad (32 percent versus 19 percent of respondents said they would do so).

NEW OPPORTUNITIES

Native Advertising”—which used to be referred to as “advertorials”—is another way to describe sponsored content that actually appears in the flow of regular editorial content.

One of the little-known downsides to native advertising is that it doesn’t show up in search results. I’m told this is because many sites specifically choose not to include any advertising in search results. I have a feeling this practice may start to change soon.

Many—if not most—consumer-based publications have begun to adopt native advertising opportunities. Communications strategists of all stripes would be smart to understand how these opportunities fit into overall content marketing landscape. A few tips to heed:

Do your homework and make sure you’re paying to be in front of the right audience.

Be creative about the byline of your piece. It doesn’t necessarily need to be from someone in your company.

Above all, content, even branded content, needs to have value. Again, use research tools to uncover topics that readers care about most.

Instead of thinking there are fewer ways to engage with the media, look for nontraditional ways. Face-to-face events and native advertising pose two options to explore.

CONTACT:

Barbara Bates is CEO and founder of Eastwick. She can be reached at barbara@eastwick.com

This article originally appeared in the December 22, 2014 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.