AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising

One-Minute MarketerNative Advertising or Public Relations

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Native Advertising or Public Relations

Native advertising makes me laugh: If you want something to sound like it is new, give it a new name. Here’s how Wikipedia defines it: Native advertising is a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. For example, an article written by an advertiser to promote their product, but using the same form as an article written by the editorial staff.iStock_000061425074_Medium

For us in public relations, we’ve been doing that for 35 years. One of my first press releases as a writer for University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics was placed on the Quad-City Times’ front page (under a reporter’s byline, but it was my article, word for word).

Now some think that native advertising is the downfall of PR. I’d say, native advertising is what PR is all about. The problem is not that PR is changing, the problem is that the media is changing. We may not worry so much about securing media coverage through traditional media when we can use the cumulative media power of citizen journalists through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

So PR may look different going forward, but the key attributes of a strong practitioner will be the same:

  • Deep understanding of target audience
  • Strong writing skills
  • Ability to simplify complex communications problems
  • Ability to see the forest and how each tree builds it
  • Technology savvy
  • Understanding of how design impacts brand and messaging
  • Ability to turn data into a visual story

Call it what you like, native advertising or public relations, the new digital landscape is changing the roles, but not the underlying fundamentals of messaging and brand.

Written by:

Mark wrote his first direct-mail fundraising letter in 1981 for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement. The effort raised a few million dollars in undiscovered wills and legacy gifts. From that day forward Mark discovered a love of the big idea that moves the needle. After 12 years at KWWL, Mark became a business owner as a co-founder of ME&V — rebranded as AMPERAGE in 2015. After 25 years of leading creative teams in video production, graphic design, PR, writing and web development, Mark transitioned out of ownership in 2021. Today he serves in an employee role as special projects consultant. He is creatively ambidextrous — son of an artist and engineer — and famous for distilling complex ideas down to a few words and a few visuals. Mark is a writer. When he found that many nonprofits struggled with complex branding puzzles, he wrote the book, “NonProfit-NonMarketing .” He also wrote a novel called “Reenactment.” Mark is an active blogger OneMinuteMarketer® with nearly 1,000 readers each week on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. One of his most popular YouTube videos is on “How to Look Good on Zoom.” One of Mark’s fondest business memories was being named to INC 500 two times and attending the INC 500 conference with other winners. Mark is considered by some a Civil War expert (and that explains his novel). Mark also served as an adjunct professor in the business and in the communications departments at Wartburg College. Mark is a graduate of the University of Iowa and is currently vice president of the University of Iowa Journalism and Mass Communications Advisory Board. Mark is married to state Sen. Liz Mathis, and the two love to travel, even when it means being trapped by a volcano in the Czech Republic for three weeks.