Advertising and PR are seen as different disciplines and big organizations separate them even more with their internal silos. But advertising is a very important topic for crisis communication. We’ve seen clients buy sponsored links to draw attention to their crisis website to help counter all the bad reports and bad reporting. We’ve seen companies advertise heavily such as BP did during the recovery phase of the Gulf Spill. And we’ve seen others such as Richard Edelman roundly criticize them for trying to advertise their way out of a reputation problem.
In my view, all forms of communication need to be considered and be part of the crisis communicators arsenal. Online advertising has made things even much more interesting in responding to event. That’s why I perked up when I saw the term “native advertising” referred to in this PR Newser post. Native advertising? Does this have something to do with casinos?
No, native advertising is way of embedding content that looks a lot like the content of a website. Almost like product placement in movies, except as in this example, it is clearly marked as sponsored. Scroll down the page on this website called “the awl” and you should see small headline that designates the sponsored story. Note, not sponsored ad, sponsored story. Turns out this one, through Buzzfeed, is an ad for Parker, the movie.
There’s much to comment on on this very subtle blending of content clearly intended for viral distribution and promotion. But my intent is to bring this to your attention as a possible, but possibly risky, channel of communication in a crisis.
I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has either used this form in responding to reputation issues or is aware of any examples from anyone else.