Senior Director of PR Operations at ChicExecs PR Retail Strategy Firm .
In an era where marketing costs are rising, pay-for-performance models like affiliate marketing are becoming even more common. While it’s likely you’ll see affiliate links in influencers’ social media posts, they’re actually a common sight in publishing and editorials, too.
With the holiday season just a few months away, brands are looking for every ounce of coverage they can get to boost Q4 sales. After all, press mentions during the holidays—especially by big-name outlets—can have a big impact on your holiday sales. Organic features are always nice, but if you can get a news outlet to sell for you as an affiliate, you may be able to get tons of coverage and more sales.
Learn how affiliate marketing works in PR, as well as three ways you can invest in editorial affiliates in time for the holiday gifting season.
What is affiliate marketing in PR?
Affiliate marketing isn’t just for influencers. News and media outlets on a local and national level have started to embrace affiliate agreements as a way to earn more income.
It wasn’t always like this, though. Before the advent of social media, newspapers and magazines made a killing on print ads. But when Facebook Ads came out in 2007, brands flocked to digital ads because their impact was easier to measure.
When digital ads took over, media outlets had a big problem on their hands: How could they make money when no one wanted to buy print?
This led many media outlets to change their revenue systems entirely. Since I’ve found that fewer brands want to buy pricey print ads, outlets tend to make more of their revenue today from affiliate agreements.
At its core, affiliate marketing with editorial partners works just like any affiliate deal. Outlets look for products that sell well and that offer a juicy commission. They add your product links to their content and earn a commission every time readers buy. It’s a win-win proposition where brands make more sales and outlets can monetize their following.
Plus, when news outlets feature multiple products in one piece, like a holiday gift guide, that gives the outlet multiple opportunities to earn commissions. This means that outlets are always on the hunt for new products to feature as affiliates.
How can brands make a game plan for holiday affiliate marketing?
There’s nothing wrong with partnering with influencers or other types of affiliates, but if you haven’t done editorial affiliate marketing yet, you could be leaving money on the table.
However, editorial holiday calendars are already filling up. Even though we’re in the thick of summer, you should make a game plan for your editorial affiliate campaigns right now.
Follow these three tips to master affiliate marketing just in time for the holiday gifting season.
1. Pay good commissions on best-selling products.
Affiliate marketing agreements should be a 50-50 benefit for you and the media outlet. That means you should incentivize editors to choose your products over the hundreds of other options they see in their inboxes.
It helps to offer a high enough commission that editors know they’ll be able to make a good deal of money selling your products as affiliates. I’ve found that they tend to go after products that are either priced higher or that have high conversion rates. If you want outlets to pick up your products, it’s a good idea to have your conversion and sales data on hand, because they’ll definitely ask for it.
2. Invest in SEO leading up to Q4.
Media outlets don’t always like working with new or unproven brands. They need to see that you have some kind of clout or that your brand is trustworthy. This is why it’s so important to begin using search engine optimization (SEO) strategies leading up to the holidays.
That could not only help you earn more organic traffic from search engines but also help with your chances of scoring more affiliates.
Affiliate marketing has turned editorial content into a numbers game. Even if you have great sales stats, you should also have brand authority to increase the chances that big outlets take on your products as affiliates.
As a brand, you should source backlinks from local or mid-tier outlets first. This can boost your search volume and overall search presence. From there, you can continue earning features until a top-tier outlet gets wind of your brand. At that point, you’ll have proven your legitimacy with a verifiable record in the search engines.
3. Work with publicists to score more features.
Editorial affiliates are a great way to boost your holiday sales, but it takes a lot of work to secure these features. If you’re overwhelmed at the thought of looking for media outlets, pitching reporters and managing your affiliate program, look for an experienced publicist to do the heavy lifting.
Make sure any publicist you’re considering has professional contacts with journalists and e-commerce editors. So if your dream is to land a feature on BuzzFeed’s holiday gifting guides, the right publicist should have contacts there to get you in. When you’re choosing a publicist, it is also important that the team you are working with understands the goals and needs of your business. Publicists who work with the audience that aligns with your company’s goals on a daily basis will help you ensure your brand is seen by the right set of eyes. Hire a team that has the connections and experience and that wants to be your biggest cheerleader. When the team promoting your brand truly identifies with the message or product your brand is selling, that is when you are likely to find success.
Regardless of the features you score, a publicist can make it way easier to source editorial partners who will sell products for you.
Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?