Public relations and the practice of paid content: Practical, theoretical propositions and ethical implications

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This article focuses on the relatively new marketing phenomenon of embedded paid content. However, the reality is that Israeli public relations (PR) practitioners are engaged in promotion of paid digital content marketing (DCM) without full disclosure or transparency on various internet sites. Three major questions are therefore raised and discussed: (a) Does payment for content - which entails PR practitioners control over content - demand a review of PR practice definitions? (b) Does PR paid DCM makes "give-and-take relationships" with journalists and the "two-way symmetric model" redundant in digital channels? (c) What are the ethical implications of using paid DCM without full disclosure for PR practitioners and brand stakeholders? We suggest that definitions of PR should be reviewed in light of using undisclosed paid DCM. Moreover, we claim that the penetration of PR into buying digital media, and thus purchasing control in the same way as advertising, contributes to an ambiguous line between PR and advertising. From an ethical perspective, when paid DCM is embedded into our main digital information channels, often hiding commercial messages, readers may be confused between editorial and paid content generated by marketers. This confusion may well lead to a decline in the trustworthiness of media organizations and business organizations using this practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-401
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Content marketing
  • Ethics
  • Israel
  • Paid digital content
  • Public relations


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