Wednesday, April 03, 2013
The online world is considering what to do about sponsored content. Some are labeling it prominently and have standards for readers to peruse. Some are not. From a PR perspective, sponsored content should be labeled prominently and frequently to avoid credibility problems. An online publisher who allows sponsored content to edge into editorial copy is messing with his credibility and that of any advertiser who works with him. It isn't worth the fallout once the public discovers that it is reading company-generated copy. This doesn't mean that companies are fraudulent. Far from it. Articles from sponsored sources can be better than what a reporter might write. What it does mean, however, is that the copy has been published without undergoing the editorial process, the third-party vetting that lends credibility. Readers want to know this, and they feel cheated when they are not told. It isn't worth the fallout for publishers to edge over the line.