Yesterday, I mentioned why we should learn how our clients make money. Working in a PR firm, we serve two masters: clients and media. I side with remarks @SteveRubel made at PRSA's Digital Impact conference this year. He mentioned everything being media. Not just mainstream news but also Twitter, YouTube channels or any form of mass communication tool. All of these channels are looking for some sort of value exchange. For some, it could be more exposure, more web traffic, more followers or free trials of products from time to time. For a lot of bigger fish, especially the ones with employees, that value exchange typically involves creating content with revenue in mind so that they can survive.
Many could be looking for a couple of things: pageviews and "shareability." Advertising is still a key driver of revenue for a majority of media outlets (once again, media being any mass publishing platform). They serve up pageviews and traffic to brands and sell it in order to financially sustain their existance. While some media platforms do it better than others, they all still need eyeballs to survive. If you have a story or angle that is attractive to them and presents potential for a very shareable story, you definitely increase your chances for getting some pickup.
New monetization strategies
While many media companies charge for subscriptions or sell ad space for revenue, many are looking for other ways to provide some sort of mutually beneficial experience for brands and themselves. For many, this has taken the form of branded content (or native advertising depending on who you're talking to). Outlets like Forbes and Buzzfeed have championed this practice. As an example, for a fee you could partner with a media company for them to make a new extension of their website (or app) with your client's branding. Your client has the opportunity to establish authority over a subject of their choosing by using that media company's platform. The media company also has the opportunity to provide what should be valuable content to their readers and continue to bring people back to their platform.
Sure, there are potential pitfalls with this type of setup. Some could see this as harming what's left of journalistic integrity. This model could also prove problems for PR agency billing if agencies are billing for time AND asking for money for sponsored posts. Every new change is going to present itself with problems. It doesn't matter if you agree or like the direction things eventually head. As a PR pro, your job is to get your client or employer coverage and awareness at the end of the day.
Stay ahead of the curve
Keep watch on how media companies appear to be generating revenue. Someday it could help get your client in the door for a cool story. Sometimes finding new ways for a brand to partner with a media company in an innovative way makes for a great story in itself.
How do you see media and brands working together in the future? Where will agencies fit into the equation?