Paid is a four letter word that public relations is increasingly using to its advantage.
Paid, until recently a four-letter word in public relations, is bringing an advantage never experienced before: control (click to tweet). For the first time, public relations is not solely reliant on journalists and publishers, or limited by organic reach.
Paid media leverages digital’s full capabilities of audience targeting, timing, reliable reach and measurement.
Paid Media, But Not As You Know It
Let’s clarify that paid media in support of public relations is very different from advertising paid media, and requires a unique perspective.
Positioning brands as thought leaders and the thoughtful selection of publisher partners for earned amplification is a skillset the public relations professional is best equipped to provide.
Online Noise & User Control
The average person spends around 10 hours consuming media each day, and in that time is exposed to 5,000+ marketing messages, according to eMarketer and Media Dynamics.
We register awareness for about one-quarter of those messages and, fewer still, approximately 3% make any sort of actual impression. The online space is overcrowded with content, and consumers are firmly in control of what they engage with, when and where.
Paying to Play
Fans, loyal customers and advocates will find and engage with a favored brand’s best content; so build it and they will come. Faithful visitors to a news or publisher site may read an earned feature.
But what about the potential customers searching for the content a brand has to offer, who don’t know it exists? This is where paid digital media is helping to expand a brand’s reach beyond the organic to a whole new audience.
Control: Targeting & Timing
Want to specifically reach college-educated women, age 25 to 34, with kids, living in Midwest America, that are interested in health and fitness? Check.
A negative news story broke and you need to capture people actively searching for more information to ensure they see your viewpoint? Done. Working toward earned, but the urgency of the situation calls for immediate distribution?
Paid digital can go live today. And when the earned does run, paid media will go into action, amplifying the story to reach even more eyeballs than any single media outlet can deliver. When there is positive earned coverage from a reputable and highly respected outlet, paid lets you shout it from the rooftops if you wish.
Adding Earned Value
Paid media placement can lead to earned coverage. Paid can also encourage social sharing for further organic reach. Video views are purchased, but the click-throughs to the content, generated as a result of the views, come at no cost. There are so many ways paid media brings additional return on investment beyond your primary key performance indication (KPI).
This article originally appeared as part of the Ketchum Digital & Social Almanac 2016.