The ever-changing media landscape means that even if you have a great story to tell, you will still have to spend money to get your message to the right people.
The idea of paying to reach a bigger audience on social media or through search engines is well established, but paid media partnerships are not just digital led.
In fact, companies who engage a PR firm to produce news and media content for them should be prepared to set additional budget aside to get coverage in the media titles that matter.
Why’s the move towards paid media partnerships?
What I call heritage media titles, longstanding newspapers and magazine brands, have not only had to respond to the rise of paid social media and paid search activity over the last decade.
They’ve also been playing catch-up with younger and more agile digital media brands which have been able to lead the way on sponsored content due to their niche, hyper-local audiences.
This decimation of traditional media advertising models means some titles that used to publish your news content for free (because it was well-written, relevant and newsworthy) have moved towards a sponsored content model.
They’re harnessing their respected brand name and huge social media followings to create commercial opportunities both online and in print.
For example, for many regional dailies the humble business page has been replaced with a bespoke business publication or dedicated business news website where (with the odd exception) content is only featured if you’re willing to pay.
How do paid media partnerships work?
Essentially, you’re paying to get your message to a specific audience. For example, you may be looking to reach business decision makers in Birmingham, Manchester or Leeds.
While a well written news story or feature may give you a one-off media hit in that particular region, the right media partner in that area may offer you a package that includes a series of sponsored news stories (what we use to call advertorials), as well as sharing that content to their social media following.
Branded opinion pieces, featured articles, business roundtable events, video content and website banner advertising may also be part of the deal.
It’s important to stress that while paid media partnerships can guarantee coverage in a particular title, you will still need experienced PR professionals to advise you on media strategy, key message development and campaign roll out, not to mention the copywriting skills to bring your story to life.
What does this mean for your business?
Just like you would pay to boost a social media post to get more people to see it, or pay to get on the first page of Google, if you want certain people to see your business in the media titles that matter to you, be prepared to pay for it.
Businesses should commit a healthy budget to paid media. That’s not to say all media coverage needs to be paid for, far from it. But ‘paid media partnerships’ or ‘sponsored content partnerships’ can be very powerful when formulated as part of a wider PR or marketing campaign.
For example, if you’re a professional services business and want to get the word out to your community about a new product, a paid media partnership sitting alongside your other marketing activity adds another dimension to your campaign.
While publishers often have a duty to make clear that content is sponsored, getting your content seen in places other than on your owned channels can create extra buzz about your business and brand.