Pay-to-play publicity — it had to arrive sooner or later.
A Swedish company now offers a pay-to-play functionality that allows brands to unlock paywalled articles to increase visibility for positive mentions.
Quite a few Swedish news organisations have already joined:
Here’s how it works in a nutshell: below is a local news article with a positive brand mention behind a paywall:
The brand, or any other brand, can unlock this content for a fee.
For comparison, 10,000 SEK is roughly 1,100 USD.
At these rates, most Swedish companies working actively with PR would consider unlocking a positive brand mention for the allotted time. But they won’t be too happy about it — the thrill of publicity is that anyone can read about your brand.
Not just the people you send the article to.
Publicity work now becomes laden with another task; brands must take full ownership of distributing their “super link.”
How do you share this “super link?” Via social media, most likely. And that, as we know, comes with an additional fee today.
I can’t help but feel that pay-to-play publicity takes some of the fun out of getting traditional publicity. I’m sure that most PR professionals would agree.
We can say many things about public relations, but no one can say it’s a high-margin business. Each additional cost must come from the pockets of communicators and PR professionals.
Still, we can’t blame the company behind this solution.
If the alternative has your brand mentions paywalled forever, this provides PR professionals with an extra option. But the “good news” stops there, I’m afraid.
What will happen if pay-to-play publicity becomes the norm?
Here’s what to expect from news publishers:
And here’s what to expect from PR professionals:
Let’s hope that we all can do better than this.