Not coverage for coverage’s sake…

Share the news

Getting great, effective editorial coverage is a boxing match between brand and editorial – you have to be clever about it and respect the rules of the game.

“But why didn’t my video get coverage? It only had four brand mentions, a group of kids in branded t-shirts and one branded mascot in it?”

…and you have to ask why the video editor at the Daily Mail or the Head of Video at PA didn’t want to run it. These are conversations I’m sure we have all had.

In our industry we can be pushed editorially to the limits by clients whose eyes light up with coverage hits rather than pound signs, but there’s no excuse for over-branding your video content, neglecting the news hook and ignoring your audience.

There is absolutely no reason your brand can’t get effective editorial coverage, but respect the rules of the game. Prepare yourself for the fight. You’re about to enter the ring for your first heavyweight battle: Branded v Editorial.

Both are excellent contenders. They are skilled in their field respectively but they have a competing agenda. Brand, in the red corner, is trying to master the delicate art of balancing a commercial agenda with brand integrity. In the blue corner we have Editorial, the publishers – the people we want to run our content and are masters in the art of balancing a commercial agenda with editorial integrity. Their editorial agenda is their strongest punch: it defines what content is and isn’t right for their audience – and it can knock your story out.

Gaining the competitive advantage lies in creating good branded editorial content that rallies people around an idea central to the brand’s messaging but not directly promoting the brand. This, teamed with a strong news hook, will give you the best chance of securing coverage with meaningful content.

But be warned, we can end up on the ropes when we try and throw in some branded content. Branded content is distinctly different and shouldn’t be confused with branded editorial. One will get you earned coverage, the other won’t.

Branded v Editorial
Video content that falls between these two categories has in recent years ended up on publishers ‘offsite news’ channels, a term Reuters coined in 2016 for content that sits outside of the main editorial site but is placed on social channels. It’s a way for us to reach the publisher’s audience with a more branded soft-hook news story. I’m sure we’ve all told clients: “That story would work great on social.”

Well bam! Just when you think you’re winning, another opponent enters the ring: Facebook. Zuckerberg announces the reorganising of the platform so that people see more ‘meaningful interactions’ with their family and friends. What will happen to the ‘offsite news’ and publishers’ content which has successfully given PR an editorial outlet beyond the main news pages? And what does this mean for the brand? Read our blog on Facebook changes to newsfeed ranking and find out what PA Video desk think of the move.

Nobody quite knows yet and it’s too early to throw in the towel. But I wonder if this is symptomatic of our losing sight of the ‘meaningfulness’ of our content in favour of coverage and making sure people see the brand rather than rally around that all-important brand message.

“Given the chance to compete with regular news stories, good branded editorial content is more likely to be watched”

It is a contributing factor to why our crafted editorial has landed on the ‘offsite news’ pages of the Independent and Telegraph – those news sites have been known to place clients’ content on their social pages rather than their main news site in the first place.

Given the chance to compete with regular news stories, good branded editorial content is more likely to be watched. Providing genuine coverage across multiple publishers who want to run the content because it is newsworthy has audience appeal and adheres to their editorial agenda.

Great storytelling is born out of PR, and it should remain at its heart. It’s what we do because we earn our space in the media. We don’t pay to see it fly –  we fight for it! And when we get it right the rewards are plentiful: that coveted spot on the sofa of GMB, Sky News or the Holy Grail of online The Daily Mail.

When we enter the editorial ring be prepared, consider our opponent and how to beat them, but give the audience a good show too. Create watchable, meaningful content that stops our hard earned editorial video from falling into the digital landfill of unwatched, coverage-less content.

Rhian Harries is director of production and operations at TNR and Commotion
@rhianharriez

 The article also features in PR Week online here.

Tags: | | | | | | | | | |