Commerce journalism is the future (yes, for b2b too)

Income from affiliated ecommerce links is not a nice-to-have for media brands – it’s now crucial to their survival and central to their editorial strategy. Understanding how shoppable content works, and how to maximise the opportunities for your brands, is now a vital skill for consumer PR professionals.This isn’t pay-to-play; this isn’t advertising – it’s the present and future for a rapidly growing number of journalists and must be factored into earned media activations. It also puts a spotlight on the importance of product PR for brand visibility and business growth.Let’s rewind: how does this all work? Online retailers offer affiliate marketing schemes, which anyone can apply to join, from the biggest media houses to an individual content creator.Once signed up as an affiliate partner, they can generate unique links to those retailers from their content – anything from a news story or product review to a social media post. If a consumer clicks on that trackable link and goes on to buy, the retailer pays a percentage of the sale price as commission to the affiliate partner.Think this doesn’t apply to you if you’re in b2b PR? Wrong!There’s also a huge affiliate opportunity attached to services – from IT to insurance to healthcare – as well as business products. That brings b2b media into play.In short, earned media needs to earn for media. The rise of ecommerce, accelerated by the COVID pandemic, has seen the affiliate revenue opportunity soar: a lifeline for struggling media brands, and a day-one option for the newer generation of content creators.Unsurprisingly, both groups are increasingly influenced by the question of whether featuring a brand has a revenue opportunity attached.More than ever, this means PR cannot sit in a silo of shiny activations. Do you understand the commercial aims and sales strategy of the brands you’re representing, and how that will affect results? If there’s a shoppable angle, you can’t gatekeep brand stories and messaging – are you ready for that?Do you also have a product PR plan? Long the bridesmaid to brand PR, coverage of products and shoppable services is now fundamental for any brand with something to sell. Dovetailing product PR with affiliate opportunities can make a massive difference to the quality and effectiveness of PR coverage.And brands can measure it, too – proper, sales-driving statistics, not some tangential metric.Think this isn’t the job of a PR professional? In a world of blurred lines between different marketing, PR and digital functions, that opinion could cost you. Get with the (affiliate) programme.Victoria Ruffy is CEO of Little Red Rooster PR

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