PR agencies and affiliate networks might seem like two very different businesses, each with their own unique set of objectives, but one Performance Marketing Insights panelist felt there are distinct parallels in how they work with clients and publishers.

Speaking during a session on making the transition from a content blogger to an international publisher, Jess Markwood, editorial director at fashion publisher Mode Media, made the comparison between the two types of organisation.

“I think affiliate networks almost have a similar job to what a PR has to do in my opinion,” she said. “You are working with publishers, you are working with your clients. You have to find a happy balance between the two to make sure that both sides are happy.”

Shaking the middle man tag

Describing affiliate networks as “a little bit pushy of their brands”, Markwood revealed how she found it difficult when affiliate networks would combine their client base and list of publishers for promotions that perhaps lacked relevancy.

She advised that networks should perhaps take a step back from being the middle man by organising events where publishers and brands could interact directly with an eye to concluding deals together.

Later on in the panel session, host Tom Allin, Skimlinks’ head of publisher development, asked Markwood whether she thought affiliate networks or PR agencies did a better job of promoting a brand’s message.

Brand experience vs ROI

Treading the line of diplomacy, Markwood felt the two had contrasting methods to how they went about promoting a brand, with each having its own unique set of targets. Whereas a PR would develop the brand experience, a network might focus on return of investment.

“I have always really enjoyed working with PRs because brand experience is quite often a more creative campaign than a simple CPA campaign where you drive sales and do it now, as quickly as possible,” she revealed.

“There’s not much creative experience along the way. It is just the quickest journey possible.”

While there are similarities between affiliate networks and PR agencies, they do each have a unique enough approach to marketing that will keep their respective paths separated for now.