Vakrangee’s opportunity between ‘news’ and ‘advertising’ – PR or media buying?

I have a feeling I have been seeing a LOT of news about Vakrangee in the past one week. It was on 28th January (Tuesday), and again, today, in ET. Also on January 29th, in Moneycontrol. The interesting connecting point between all those sightings is that they are all paid for. The 2 mentions in Economic Times are in ET Panache, the ‘advertorial and promotional feature‘ supplement of Economic Times.

Ironically, when the very same story (of senior management revamp) is published in the online version of Economic Times, that paid-for disclaimer is missing.

On Moneycontrol, the Vakrangee “emerges as a leader in Financial & Social inclusion Initiatives in Rural India” story is part of ‘Moneycontrol Brand Connect’, a branded feature that I believe is a paid-for spot. The sign-off in the articles mention, “This is a partnered post“.

This is a new kind of PR. Actually, far less of PR and a lot more of advertising. But this is also not entirely advertising because that part is not identified as easily as conventional advertising by an ordinary reader.

For context:

So, is Vakrangee not confident of getting organically into the news at all that they have to resort to being mentioned in leading financial publications in print and online? Not that there is anything wrong with advertising, but considering this is not explicit advertising and occupies a grey area between PR and advertising, it is definitely more of media buying than media engagement.

To be fair, the fact that publications such as Economic Times and Moneycontrol, the respective leaders in financial media in print and online, allow for and make available such grey spots is the primary issue. And if they are available, with rather vague disclaimers such as ‘partnered post’ on Moneycontrol and ‘advertorial and promotional feature’ on ET Panache under the masthead instead of specific pieces that are paid-for, why wouldn’t brands use them?

I understand Vakrangee’s perspective – they have a compelling need to get in front of the readers of The Economic Times and Moneycontrol. And if they cannot earn that mention, in either the size they want it or the way they want themselves to be positioned, they have 2 options – they can advertise, like a normal advertiser. Or, if they want to create an illusion of having organically earned the mention, in a size and positioning that they think they deserve, they go for the grey-area option – pay and get what you want, while also not calling it out as advertising.

Evolution of media, I presume.

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