The Rise of Affiliate Marketing

A shopping cart full of packages behind the words, "The Rise of Affiliate Marketing"

We’ll admit we had no idea a year or so ago what affiliate marketing was, but we kept running into it when pitching for our clients. We’d get a query stating “must be an affiliate” or “only affiliates considered.” 

What the heck is affiliate marketing?

Short answer: A way for publications or writers to make money off of your product sales.

Long answer: Affiliate marketing is an advertising model where publishers earn a commission by promoting a product or service made by another retailer or advertiser. The affiliate partner is rewarded a payout for providing a specific result to the retailer or advertiser. 

We’re currently being assaulted with Father’s Day Gift Guides in every print or online publication known to man/woman/humanity. A lot of those products are part of an affiliate marketing program. 

We stole this nifty diagram from Shopify to illustrate how it works. Is it stealing if you credit them? We’re gonna go with no.

A graph depicting how Affiliate Programs work

Why it matters to public relations

Affiliate marketing combined with public relations can be incredibly powerful and open up more doors for brands. You still have to build relationships with e-commerce editors and writers to get coverage for your product. It isn’t one or the other. If your product sucks, no one is going to write about it. 

Some examples of affiliate publishers are Forbes, People, Business Insider, BuzzFeed, CNN, the New York Times, the New York Post, US Weekly, USA Today, Thrillist, Today, Good Morning America, and more.

Kind of some big names huh? 

Is it right for you?

In PR, the hustle is real. Even with access to a great media database, solid reporter relationships and some amazing products or storylines – coverage is never a guarantee. PR is hard peeps, and we go above and beyond to get that media for our clients. Pay-to-play has also become a part of this – some of our local morning shows featuring businesses are paid segments. If you ask us, and you are by reading this blog, affiliate marketing is also pay-to-play – it’s how publications and writers can make money promoting YOUR product or service. 

PR pros identify affiliate publishers that align with a brand, as well as key shopping and commerce editors and writers ― and create press assets and develop story ideas to attract them. They monitor affiliate programs, strengthen relationships with best-performing affiliate partners, continue new media outreach and more.

How can I get started?

Everything you do should have a strategy, even if it’s a one-pager of bullet points. You need to build out campaigns, identify holidays to pitch media and build out your approach and collateral.

You then gotta identify the affiliate program that is right for your business. Our friends at Shopify list a whole bunch, with themselves listed number one…obviously. You’re gonna need to do the research cause they are popping up right and left. Maybe we’ll write another blog about the best programs, but probably not. 

The most important step once you’ve identified the program is to hire a PR firm. If you have the tool but don’t know how to capture opportunities, it’s gonna be pretty useless for ya. 

Forbes points out the most effective way to get features is to have a traditional PR approach coupled with affiliate marketing outreach. With the holiday season approaching, this may be the perfect time to jump into affiliate marketing. 

If you’re still confused, reach out, buy us a drink and we can lament on how much the world of PR has changed since we were…ahem, younger. 

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