The death of organic social media campaigns and why paid media isn't cheating

Talk of Facebook algorithms, monetised pins on Pinterest and Instagram adverts means PR can no longer hope to achieve the right results for brands without looking at paid media.

Why, then, is it still seen as a campaign bolt-on as opposed to a legitimate and strategic tool?

PR has always prided itself on being better than advertising. We proudly point out to clients that studies show editorial (and so, PR) is three times more effective than advertising because people are savvy. They know you’ve paid for it so of course it will say lovely things about you.

Sadly we’ve taken this thinking into our approach to social media, and before that SEO.

Whilst many could say PR missed the boat on SEO it’s crucial we don’t do the same with paid media in all forms, even advertorials if a specific title is important to a client.

On social the power of paid is a comms professional’s dream. Tight targeting based on all those scrummy demographics our former counterparts could only dream of – location, marital status, hobbies, what their friends like – all a few clicks away when building a campaign.

When you think about it, PR is the natural place for paid social to sit. Now anyone has the ability to promote whatever content they way there’s a risk of spamming consumers with poor content that gets in front of them simply because it has a budget. As storytellers we should be able to craft content that deserves budget, rather than throwing budget behind any old sales message just because.

It’s always hard asking clients for more budget, or stretching an overly tight budget with paid media, but presenting them with cold hard facts can help secure funds. It’s hard to argue with data and we should be using everything at our disposal to build the most strategic campaigns we can. After all, #PRstack showed us the tools are definitely out there.

It’s time to change the PR mind-set and branch into what should be natural territory for the better of our clients and their campaigns.