More and more online content providers are turning to paywalls and subscription-based revenue streams to save their bottom lines amid declining advertising revenues. Paywalls do provide a welcomed respite from the barrage of online advertising we loathe on free content sites, but gating content also changes the relationships companies, thought leaders, and industry experts have with the media.
The credibility of media as a third-party is still very powerful, but putting content behind a paywall means that fewer people see coverage organically. The smartest organizations have always proactively communicated their media presences to key audiences. But, the increasing prevalence of paywalls presents a greater need for all organizations to seamlessly integrate marketing and public relations efforts. A comprehensive communications program now means finding creative and innovative ways to showcase valuable media coverage that may not be globally accessible.
Despite the frustration of not being able to directly link a reader to company coverage in a publication, paywall lemons can be turned into content lemonade. With a change in perspective, a client quote or feature in the media can become an opportunity to efficiently develop new content in multiple forms for use across a variety of channels.
This “second generation” content can maximize value for a company’s core audiences, building on the original placement with the addition of new insights that didn’t make the original cut, supporting case studies, relevant images or videos, and links to related materials of interest. Tailoring this marketing-focused message to key audiences still reaps all of the credibility benefits of being cited in a great media placement, even if readers lack access to the original pieces (though it always helps to add a disclaimer alongside a link to gated content).
Thankfully, most experts agree that paywalls are merely a temporary stopgate solution for online publishers grappling with a saturated market and disintegrating advertising revenues. While we await the next evolution of the digital media industry, companies will find success by building integrated communications campaigns off the back of media coverage that leverages original, added-value content tailored for key influencers and decision-makers.
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