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PR Companies See Native Content as a Growth Area

Content marketingWith content the flavour du jour in the marketing world, the ongoing battle to own the space between PR agencies, digital and media agencies and content specialists shows no sign of abating according to new research carried out in the UK.

The research reveals that native advertising, whether its sponsored or branded content, is shaping up to be a vital future development for the PR sector and could be the way it gets more budget from its clients.

Around 88% of PR agencies in the UK admit that they see native as an opportunity for the sector while 75% believe they should be the best choice to create and distribute native advertising content for brands.

The survey also shows that 87% of PR firms could be doing a lot more when it comes to making their case for new content marketing budgets from their clients.

The survey was commissioned by native advertising platform Adyoulike and focused on senior directors and heads of digital at 75 of the UK’s leading PR agencies.

It also found that 50% of PR agencies currently offer native advertising solutions to their clients and 19% plan to do so in the future.

“The PR sector should be doing more with native advertising because it’s all about content – and that’s the industry’s strongest suit. After all, those agencies create eye-catching content every day,” says Francis Turner, UK managing director at Adyoulike,

“Brands see the potential of native to get their message out there in an engaging and immersive way that sits in-feed with publishers’ own content and doesn’t disrupt the online experience. PR firms should be aiming for a larger slice of the content marketing pie and native is a great way for them to get it,” he says.

The study also examined how PR agencies use native content to increase the reach and share of the media coverage they get for clients with many of them placing a lot of emphasis on social media platforms like Twitter (94%) and Facebook (88%) to achieve this.

Around 63% use paid campaigns on those two platforms to boost views of their media coverage, but less than half 44% currently use paid native. Facebook currently receives the most budget as a paid-for method of sharing coverage, averaging 18% of agency media spend, according to the research.

“Native allows PRs to get the media coverage they’ve worked so hard to achieve in front of new and broader audiences. That helps their clients and also allows them to demonstrate even greater success. And given that so many agencies already share coverage on social platforms and pay for the privilege, moving budget into native and delivering PR in a native content environment as well as a social one makes complete sense,” says Turner.

However, there are challenges he says with only 38% of senior PR people feeling “very confident” about their ability to clearly explain native advertising to their clients, while 67% are concerned by the transparency of the paid element of native campaigns. Some 40% were worried that using native devalues traditional media coverage.

Francis Turner concludes: “With complete transparency and understanding, PR agencies can use native to strengthen their client relationships, make their hard-earned media coverage stretch even further and even gain access to previously-untapped content budgets. Those who are doing so already or plan to kick off native campaigns in the near future are undoubtedly getting a leg up on the competition,” he says.