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Why Wordle should have you rethinking your earned media strategy

Why Wordle should have you rethinking your earned media strategy

Unsplash / Joshua Hoehne

Written by
Justin Finnegan

Justin Finnegan

Unsplash / Joshua Hoehne

About a month ago, The New York Times made a lot of hay when they purchased Wordle. Since then, there has been buzz among users that they’ve made it harder (they haven’t) or that they made changes (they have). Regardless, it’s evident that acquiring the game was a smart move for the publication, in terms of daily traffic, engagement and time spent on page. What does this have to do with your earned media strategy?

The Times’ acquisition of Wordle is indicative of a larger strategy publishers are employing this year: diversifying their content to attract a greater number of viewers and subscribers.

Earlier this year, Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism issued its annual Journalism, Media and Technology Trends and Predictions report. It’s extremely comprehensive and well worth the time to read as it outlines in detail some of the planned changes publishers will undertake this year.

What’s evident through the report is publishers are trying to navigate some seismic changes in the market. Many already had challenges growing revenue with traditional media business models. This was made harder by the pandemic when, at first, many cut staffing. Now, two years later, the reporters who stayed on feel by-and-large burned out due to shorter news cycles, distrust of the media, issues with the remote working model and now The Great Resignation.

So, publishers are re-imagining their value proposition by broadening their content channel and format strategy in a few main ways, according to the report:

They’re not just focusing on print or online articles. They’re investing in audio (ex: podcasts) and video (especially short form) to help fill in their content model. They’re looking to invest more in platforms like TikTok and Instagram and divest spend from Facebook and Twitter. Publishers are very much banking on subscriptions and other membership models as their primary revenue driver. They’re looking for content that helps entice subscribers (ex. Wordle) The question remains: why all of this should have you rethinking your earned media strategy. In essence, publishers have given PR professionals a roadmap on the challenges they are facing and the types of content they are seeking. They have less reporters, want to generate more video and audio content and need to build subscribers.

If your PR approach is still largely based in proactive pitches aimed at getting reporters to write articles about your company/product/executive, then you are missing nearly every one of their stated goals.

A fully realized PR program, too, needs more diversified content, aimed at the platforms in which publishers are investing. It’s true of both earned media strategy and owned media, from podcast and video series’ guest placements to social media video posts.

Today, for PR to grab audience attention, the way in which stories are delivered must be just as captivating as the message itself.

This article was initially published by our sister company SHIFT Communications on SHIFT Insights.

——— Justin Finnegan is a former Vice-President, Technology at SHIFT, sister company of NATIONAL Public Relations


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