Those who mix in PR circles know something many don’t: today’s media climate is strained enough that, for the right price, most outlets will run a story for you.
So why do so many public relations firms emphasize the need to grow an organic online footprint for their clients? Why not fork over a lump sum and secure a headline on Forbes, a website which reaches 150 million people each month?
Surely it’s a case of the more eyes on the client, the better?
It’s a Trap (Sometimes)
Advertorials are what these pieces are commonly called, although it’s not uncommon for news outlets to sneakily publish such articles without a disclaimer. They might even offer this service for an extra fee.
But advertorials are not subject to the rigorous editorial process their main articles enjoy. The content doesn’t have to perform well, because quite simply the outlet has already made its money. The only number that matters is the number of readers clicking the article, so they can sell more advertorials, which is easily inflated by placing the piece on the front page, front and center, so more people click through.
Moreover, a thinly veiled attempt to sell a client’s services through an advertorial is not conducive to creating evergreen content. People will likely not be re-discovering this article for years to come and it may well be lost in the annals of the website forever.
You don’t need a crazy publicity stunt to make the news. Simply do something that will make your target audience click on the article, pique their interest in such a way that they want to find out more.
Or, to chase the holy grail of evergreen content, create editorial content such as an op-ed and prove thought leadership in the industry. Establish what people want to read (a useful exercise is to think, what would you like to know more more about) and use this as a springboard to improving your own credibility.
Organic content is by design more likely to be read by your target audience. Advertorials give you license to include more marketing-speak and shill more shamelessly. This is not always a good thing.
Because if content can’t make it to a media outlet on the strength of its structure and message, will it be worth anything to the readers you want to reach?