PR and Affiliate Marketing: So Hot Right Now
Until only a few years ago, the affiliate space was dominated by coupon and deal sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon, but no longer. With growth at an all-time high—affiliate marketing spending totaled $6.8 billion in the United States last year—the channel has diversified in a big way and major media outlets like CNN and The New York Times are embracing affiliate opportunities as a whole new revenue source.
In addition, as more and more publishing houses move away from print entirely and into the digital space, media outlets are under immense pressure to not only churn out a steady stream of stories on a daily basis but also remain profitable. And that has given public relations pros and affiliate marketers a unique opportunity to join forces.
What Does PR Have to Do with Affiliate Marketing?
Though the practice of public relations and affiliate marketing have many differences, they both revolve around effective brand communication and building brand awareness with the goal of driving sales. By integrating the two disciplines, brands can get the most value out of the efforts of both teams.
For example, maintaining extremely close ties with the editorial contacts at the top publishing houses across the country is a huge part of any publicist’s job. Some would argue, and rightly so, that a publicist is only as good as his or her contacts. The problem is, most editors receive hundreds of emails a day from publicists hoping to secure media coverage for their brands, and editorial space isn’t exactly unlimited. To make matters more complicated, those same editors are often tasked with finding ways to monetize their content and take advantage of the large amounts of traffic on their sites.
The solution? Editorial content built around affiliates.
What does that look like exactly?
It’s pretty straightforward really. Instead of securing just “earned” (i.e. no compensation of any kind changes hands) media stories, the PR team is able to offer editors a chance to include affiliate links within their articles. The media outlet then earns a percentage of the sales of the product or service that is generated by their coverage.
Those links are equally valuable to the PR team and affiliate marketers because with every click, they are receiving incredibly insightful information. For instance, the metrics reveal whether a particular media outlet’s audience is (or isn’t) engaging with their brand, and in turn, that data informs their ongoing strategy. They can also quickly determine whether a product offer or promotion they are pushing is enticing to relevant readers, and optimize accordingly.
Is Affiliate Stealing PR’s Thunder?
Not at all! If anything, the partnership between the two teams is broadening the PR playing field. Case in point: Often, the sponsored content that both editors and their business development counterparts are seeking these days comes with a hefty integration fee, ranging anywhere from $5,000-$35,000. The reality is, most public relations teams work with a limited production budget, which severely limits the amount of sponsored content they can get featured in and their overall media reach. Not to mention, some content sites now only work with brands who have affiliate programs in order to monetize as much of their content as possible.
Also, as we touched on before, the data that comes through the affiliate links is a goldmine when it comes to better understanding their target customer. Instead of making assumptions about their potential behavior, the PR team is better equipped to make smarter, more informed strategic decisions. Through affiliate links, the PR team can see exactly which products or services are being purchased and, just as importantly, where clicks aren’t converting.
Traditionally, it’s been hard for a PR team to justify their worth when much of their “success” depends on relatively intangible benefits like sentiment and awareness. Affiliate, however, gives them a way to more reliably measure and prove their contribution to a brand’s success and growth.
Is the Partnership Beneficial to Everyone Involved?
Yes, it’s a win-win for everyone. The public relations team is able to secure more placements in more outlets, which ultimately results in greater brand awareness. The affiliate team is able to take advantage of the strong relationships that the PR team has built and grow the affiliate channel, where brand’s often look to for help.
Together, both channels are able to contribute to a stronger brand presence and increased audience engagement which translates into more sales. And that is always a good thing.
If you’re ready to see how affiliate can work with your PR team to effectively build and solidify your brand, let’s chat.
Or if you want to learn more about how affiliate marketing works, download our Affiliate Marketing 101 E-book to get started.