Let me know if the following situation sounds familiar:
Your PR team works for months on end to secure a fantastic media placement with The New York Times.
The story runs in the New York Times! Your employees are ecstatic and proud. You make it available to them in your employee advocacy tool.
Employees are excited to share, and they share liberally. This story is out there everywhere thanks to your efforts!
Only one thing: Few people can access it because The New York Times has a paywall.
In other words, only people with NYT subscriptions can get at the story.
All the momentum just went “poof.”
I’m sure many of you reading this post can relate. Because The New York Times is hardly the only publication with a paywall.
The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, Seattle Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and Miami Herald all have paywalls (and those are just the ones I could find with a few simple searches).
Anecdotally, I can tell you many different trade publications have paywalls, too (or, at the very least, sign-up forms, which also impact this process).
So, I would venture to say the paywall (or sign-up) process is fairly pervasive across most daily newspapers and industry trade publications.
Yet, we continue to see brands sharing these stories on social channels. And, worse yet, promoting them. Despite the fact that most of their audience probably can’t access it.
Needless to say: Not a great user experience.
Normally, this is where I’d have a short section of advice for brands. But, I’m not sure there’s a “fix” here. In fact, I think this is more about expectation management than anything.
If there’s any “to do” here on the communicator’s part it’s managing expectations around how far and wide these articles will be shared on the social web. In fact, I could make a pretty strong argument that sharing many of these articles on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn flat-out isn’t a good idea anymore.
photo credit: lublud Great Wall of China via photopin (license)