6 Ways Facebook’s New Publishing Deal with Major Media Could Impact PR
This article ran in AdWeek PRNewser.
Heard about the new Facebook deal allowing major national media to publish directly to the news feed? As reported by NY Mag, if you’re a fan of The New York Times, Nat Geo, Buzzfeed and NBC News, among others, you may be able to read your favorite articles without leaving Facebook. Welcome, Instant Articles.
In the past, major media have always counted on their own social networks or those of readers to spread their news across social media. These social shares always pushed web traffic — readers — back to the website to experience an article in full.
The new partnership allows media to publish their articles to Facebook in full, and for readers to experience news without ever leaving Facebook’s website. But what does this mean for PR?
The short answer is — it could affect a lot of things, from the way we evaluate coverage, to the media we strive to build relationships with, to the conversations we’re able to start with compelling stories. Here are some key considerations:
- Subscription models
High quality news can sometimes require a subscription, but with this new deal, content is published directly to Facebook — a free platform. NY Mag reports that “select articles” will be published to Facebook by the New York Times, but what about others? Will they shift payment models or only publish certain content to Facebook?
From Facebook’s latest announcement, it appears that content will be free and that publishers will be able to run advertisements in Instant Articles. But will this method be more profitable than the subscription or existing advertising models of today? We may see publishers dip their toes into the Facebook experience by reserving some of their best content for paid subscribers
Staffing changes and shifting responsibilities
As media publish directly to Facebook, it’s possible they’ll shift responsibilities among reporters or even hire new writers who understand the nuances of Facebook users and their preferences. This could mean tracking staff changes at key publications and building relationships with new contacts on behalf of our clients.
- Changes to style of news and reporting
Every social network has trends for what type of content is the most successful. Will media continue to write the way they have been or change to fit the behaviors and preferences of Facebook readers? With the new Instant Articles platform, publishers can create a multimedia experience, weaving in photos, videos, maps and other elements. They could also, however, just upload their long-form articles.
In either case, be thinking about the multimedia assets you can offer as part of your pitching efforts. This platform is built with the potential to make those a major focal point.
With news being published directly to Facebook, will we see greater engagement — shares, likes, comments, etc. — from readers on news? How will this impact conversations we’re trying to start for and about clients?
As Facebook pushes the first Instant Articles into the news feed, we may see inflated engagement numbers. This is a new and shiny offering that’s pushing past the Facebook algorithm to find a cozy spot in your news feed and those of readers.
Fast forward to a year from now, it will be interesting to see if an Instant Articles produces more engagement than landing on say… the home page of a key publication.
- Measurement and reporting
How will PR pros track the footprint of online coverage and compare publications? For example, if you’ve used reach in the past to prioritize two major national publications, how will you now account for the added reach of Instant Articles for a specific publication. One may have smaller site traffic, but better Facebook engagement than another.
Facebook’s Instant Articles website states that publishers will have access to analytics through comScore, but whether they’ll merchandise these numbers as part advertising value propositions or media kit remains to be seen. So, we in PR may not have access to them.
It will be interesting to see how popular vendors like Cision and Meltwater report on circulation and reach of publications given this new channel. In the meantime, those numbers are less reliable than ever.
- Search visibility
With readership now being split between social media and news websites, will search engines adjust algorithms to rank news differently — and how will that impact your brand’s visibility when you land that next major story?
It’s clear this new offering from Facebook and its media partners will change the way we approach PR substantially. But that’s the value we bring to our clients and teams — navigating these changes swiftly to continue to find the opportunity for our clients. Check out the Facebook newsroom for more information on the Instant Articles offering (and other news), or go directly to the Instant Articles website for client-facing language and visuals.