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Why product placement still pays off in PR campaigns

By Jacquie Boyd-Coleman

PR campaigns with all the bells and whistles can really seize the public’s imagination – but one of the simplest tricks in the media relations repertoire gets results that clients can see instantly.

I’m talking about product placement… simply putting whatever you are promoting in the hands of a publication that can give it some outstanding exposure.

A lot of what we do as an integrated communications agency involves detailed planning, bringing together marketing and PR campaigns that work across print, broadcast and digital. There will be a social media element, too – both in-house and involving influencers. And it all sits seamlessly alongside the advertising campaign.

Product placement is at the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s an old-school press office technique but the reason it’s still in the PR playbook is that it’s so effective, both in terms of coverage and return on investment.

It’s a simple acknowledgement that – even in this digital-obsessed age – the mainstream media matters to a huge swathe of the population.

Finding an engaged audience

Millions of people buy newspapers and magazines every day, or tune in to magazine shows on radio or TV. In the time of Twitter, Instagram and online influencers, those millions who ignore social media should not be overlooked. Millions more digest both. That’s why mainstream media is still key to PR campaigns.

And remember, when we’re activating social media influencers, we look for those people with the best engagement rates, not just the biggest following. What audience is more engaged than a newspaper readership? They go out and buy their favourite title every day. Millions of people pay for content they can largely get free online.

To put the value of mainstream print titles in perspective, their combined daily print and digital reach in the UK is 25.2 million people, according to industry group Newsbrands.

And despite cries of “fake news” and those who rail against the “MSM”, research shows those brands are still trusted.

Weekly product round-ups

That’s why whenever we send out a product to a journalist and it turns up in one of those weekly product round-ups – like Cash Queens in the Daily Mirror – or in a “take five” listicle in a Sunday supplement, I get a thrill.

Each time product placement pays off, millions of pairs of eyes see and read about our clients’ wares. There’s no need for a big ad budget. This is media relations that is pared back to the simple expertise of knowing who is interested in what, and when they need it.

Delivering that product to the right journalist on the right publication drives sales, online and in stores. You can see it reflected in real time. Recently, a consumer client had one of its Christmas products featured in The Sun. Its sales spiked by 800 per cent.

Big ideas and integrated communications campaigns deliver great results. But getting the basics right, running a press office that knows where best to place your product or brand and how to sell-in, should not be undervalued in your marketing and PR mix. The results can be clear and immediate.

To find out how we push the boundaries of PR, marketing, digital and web design to get the best for our clients, call us now on 0800 612 9890.