How Native Content Complements PR

Lisen Syp

As PR pros, when it comes to media relations we can all agree that a positive front page spread in the New York Times or the cover story in Fast Company or Real Simple are about as good as it gets. That said, traditional media relations is really only a segment of a successful PR program. Today’s savvy PR practitioners build in syndicated content programs, publish on earned media channels like Twitter, write company blogs, manage focused analyst and influencer programs and strike (paid) deals with high quality content rich media channels, like those run by Streetwise Media, who publish the popular BostInno, DC Inno, and Chicago Inno online outlets (soon to be expanding to Austin and LA).

I recently attended a lunch presentation at our PR firm run by Taylor Bellefeuille, National Sales Director for the organization.

Though PAN is a nationally recognized agency, a number of clients in our tech, consumer tech, and healthcare practice areas have roots in Boston, and for them, BostInno is a top outlet for regional tech news. Founded in 2009 to cover the VC and tech community in Boston, the publication has expanded to include “all thing hot and happening,” like new restaurants, real estate news and more—with all articles written through a “lens of innovation” and are therefore very appealing to a younger professional demographic.

2015-04-16_12_18_16_1While BostInno editors are on speed dial for me and my PAN colleagues, there are strategic ways to work with the publication beyond organic news. The brand publishing platform managed by the organization allows clients to publish native content to the site, which is then promoted the same way editorial content is promoted (via social). Readers digest client content the same way they digest the editorial features, a win/win for PR pros, and, because BostInno helps create the content, it stays authentic and credible to the tone of the publication. And, since measurement and ROI analysis is so critical today, BostInno’s model allows for real time reporting, so, you can tweak content to optimize engagement.

Native advertising works, and helps round out PR program efficiently, delivering great results and controlled content to a large, targeted group. In fact, according to research from IPG media lab, native ads are viewed for the same amount of time as editorial content and are more likely to be shared than a banner ad (32% versus 19% of respondents said they would do so).

As PR pros, though, our jobs are safe. For native advertising to work, content and messaging has to be grounded in exactly the same strategy that we counsel our clients regarding their PR programs. Developing content to be displayed “natively” can be closely compared to building a story under embargo with a top editor- there is give and take and the need to be objective and unbiased in planning how to present client messages, but in the end, your article will have authenticity and authority.

The beauty of building a native content strategy into your PR plan is that you can often save on budget and use the funds for high touch programs like influencer and analyst engagement, hard news pitching and social media, which require optimal attention and strategy. Native content can keep the engine running while your team manages the output of high impact, personalized PR communication.

Have you adopted this type of content strategy with your clients? We’d love to hear from you.

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