Recently I tuned into a favourite podcast to hear a booming “paid for” announcement at the beginning of the episode. This jarred a bit, but I was interested in the topic so listened on. The interviewees were both employees of the sponsoring company and while, clearly, they had been media trained to be enthusiastic and cheerful, they had obviously not taken the training on what they would say. One interviewee dominated the interview in a resolutely upbeat voice while reading from a jargon-laden presentation – possibly the annual report. I don’t know – it sounded like it – and was a total turn off. The sentences were much too long, the language too technical and the "KEY MESSAGES" were almost accompanied by trumpets, they were so obviously shoe-horned into the monologue.
Did I hear the end of it? No.
Would I be interested in knowing more about the business? No.
Would I buy from them? No.
Money left on the table. And it probably cost the company a lot to sponsor that episode. It could have been so much better.
Increasingly, sponsored or paid-for content is on offer from newspapers, magazines and even podcasts or video platforms. As publications move into multimedia platforms there are definitely well targeted opportunities for businesses to consider as part of their PR and communications mix.
Here are 8 questions to ask before you decide on sponsored or paid-for content:
1. Does the opportunity offer you a targeted platform to reach your ideal audience?
2. Are there multi-media opportunities to amplify your content? Will they post on their social media channels or website?
3. How long will your content be visible for?
4. Can you share the content in different formats? On your social media and website? As part of email newsletters to clients or potential clients, for example?
5. Know every detail of the deal – how many words, how many images, how many social posts, how many minutes on podcast or video?
6. What content will surround your content? Are you comfortable with the answer?
7. How much editorial or design help is on offer? Can you see examples of past work?
8. How will the sponsorship be presented? For example “SPONSORED” or “in association with..” etc.
If you decide to proceed, the top tip to remember is you are the Editor of that content. The responsibility is yours to make sure that what appears is appealing for your target audience.
Even if the publication offers a journalist to help with writing, you need to guide them to the right stories and the right people to talk to. Yes, I said stories. Whatever your business, there will be stories that engage and illustrate your messages far more memorably than your own writing. Images that catch the eye can stop a page being turned. These may be people photos, unusual shots of your company at work, clever infographics or illustrations. They are rarely a head shot of the managing director.
As Editor, you should also think about how to amplify this content in other ways. A useful tactic is to consider the paid-for content as the core of a communications campaign, perhaps timed around a conference or special event. From that you can plan how to work the content, or elements of the content, harder on your social media channels and as direct communications to staff, customers and clients. Perhaps it could be adapted for other uses like presentations or materials for special events. The more you can re-work the content, the better value the sponsorship will be.
Follow me on twitter
for more tips and conversations about #PR and #reputation