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Balancing sponsored and editorial content in your PR strategy


For many fintechs paid for editorial profile opportunities are a good way to ‘test the messaging’ for their company


Background:


The fintech and business trade media landscape has experienced a period of dramatic change in the past five years. In a need to diversify their revenue streams, many publications have expanded into new forms of media, such as podcasts, videos and events, increasing opportunities for sponsored content.


We’ve seen this change happening a lot at publications covering the fintech industry and this move opens up new opportunities for PR teams.


In the past, PR professionals look to secure editorial coverage in the press, however mindsets are shifting and there is now a greater appreciation that a combination of editorial and sponsored content can be effective in achieving communications objectives, particularly for newly launched companies who don’t have the profile and budgets of big companies.


Firstly, let’s be clear about what we mean by sponsored and editorial content.


Editorial content is one of the oldest forms of content marketing and is earned by sharing valuable, engaging and interesting information with journalists. Journalists write up this content as an article, or mention it in a podcast, a video, or another medium.


The benefits are that editorial content is free to publish and endorsement from a trusted publication really helps build trust and recognition for the brand.


With sponsored content, you pay to place your content in a specific location on a publication’s website - this could be as an article, video, within a podcast, on a panel at an event, etc.


The benefits are that you have full control over what is published, you can specify where and when the content will be hosted and make sure the right audiences see it.


When to use editorial vs sponsored content


The most effective PR strategies tend to incorporate both editorial and sponsored content. In general, if you have a piece of corporate news, like an investment round, senior appointment, a new product, that is valuable or interesting news for a publication’s readers, it’s best to aim for editorial coverage.


Your news should be positioned as objectively as possible, in an informative and engaging way. It should not be promotional and should allow a journalist to write an accurate article, with their own spin.


Press releases are the primary vehicle for securing editorial news coverage, but you can also approach a journalist one on one to pitch a piece of news exclusively or discuss an idea for a more in-depth article, perhaps based on some research or insights.


Sponsored content is a good option if you have a set of very specific messages you want to share on a specific topic or if your company is just starting out and struggling to gain editorial traction.


You can use sponsored or paid for editorial to test the messages you want to see published and see what the feedback is like.


For some announcements or thought-leadership campaigns, you may consider running editorial and sponsored alongside each other to maximise exposure.


Example:
Your company is launching a report using its data to provide unique insight. The strategy could include:
1. PR : A press release with the key statistics and a quote from the spokesperson
2. Paid for opportunities : A Podcast with a relevant media outlet providing an opportunity to reach a more diverse audience


Getting the most from sponsored content


As we mentioned, there’s a variety of different types of sponsored content available from a wide variety of publications. It’s important to research the options available from publications with a good sized audience that's relevant to your business.


Approach the most relevant publications and ask for as much data as possible about their audience, how sponsored content has performed for previous partners, how different mediums compare, and how much support you will receive from them in creating the content.


Support from publications can range from you supplying all the content, to their journalists writing content for you, or their teams creating video content, etc. It’s important that sponsored content is as high quality as possible, so it can be worth investing in the publication supporting you in the creation process.


Before signing a contract, set expectations with the publication and make sure you both agree on the results you want to achieve. Approaching these projects as a team is the most effective way of ensuring the audience, publication and you get what you need from the content.


We believe sponsored content is a great addition to the PR tool kit and that we should embrace it alongside editorial content as a great way to achieve communications objectives.

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