It’s no secret that social media sees some famous faces post about products or services in exchange for payment. Getting a celebrity to endorse your business can be an ideal way to engage with key stakeholders if you’ve got the money to do so. But one recent example showed that it can be risky if you’re not careful. Supermodel Naomi Campbell posted on Instagram a pair of her new Adidas trainers while accompanying it with the following text:
So nice to see you in good spirits!!!
Could you put something like:
Thanks to my friend @gary.aspden and all at adidas – loving these adidas 350 SPZL from the adidas Spezial range. ? ??✊ @adidasoriginals’
Instead of just posting what she was asked to say, she inadvertently showed that she had been asked to promote the product by posting the full request. Woops…
This got me thinking about the amount of promotional content there is on social media, and the impact it’s had on the public’s cynicism. While your typical media consumer may not have heard of the term ‘paid media’, it might be fair to say that thanks to social media, he or she is more aware of its concept. When a famous face tweets about a new toothpaste or a recently opened restaurant, many of us know that chances are there’s money involved. And it’s not just social media that has spurred this cynicism. Online news sites are often quick to tell us which articles are sponsored content.
Now that we’re savvier with spotting paid media, could the value of earned media get a boost? If media consumers appreciate that editorial coverage for an organisation appears with no fee, it’s likely that they’ll regard it higher than advertising. Consumers perhaps are more likely to be engaged with products and services promoted in earned coverage if they’ve cottoned on to the fact that the organisation has gained it through merit, not payment.
As a B2B PR agency, we’re always interested in how our profession is perceived. If my theory proves right, the demand for PR could possibly see a rise, and more organisations see value in gaining editorial coverage over advertising. PR might not be high on the agenda for many organisations, but that could soon change.
Alex Brown has just started his career at Skout PR and will be a regular contributor to the Skout blog.