Every communications professional has faced the challenge of how to most appropriately respond in a timely manner to misinformation or opposition attacks in an op-ed. Similarly, communications professionals frequently look for opportunities to brand their client organization, to positively associate their organization with the issue of the day, or to inject organizational views into relevant policy debates.

The Washington Post has recently introduced another channel for responding to opinion columns that will complement op-eds, letters to the editor and standard commenting in the existing PR arsenal.

As part of its ongoing efforts to increase online revenue, the Post recently announced a new online advertising feature called “Sponsored Views.” Sponsored Views allows organizations to post commentary in response to opinion articles in the space immediately under the article. The Post is marketing Sponsored Views as an opportunity for advocacy, communications and government affairs professionals to place their message in front of key constituents.

What you need to know: This new space allows for the organization’s name, logo, and commentary that can run up to 600 characters and is subject to approval by staff before being posted. The sponsored comment is highlighted with a pale yellow background and featured above the general comments section to give priority viewing [See image below]. Advertising with Sponsored Views starts at $500 per article and varies depending on duration and publication date. 

Sponsored online content is becoming increasingly mainstream as the Wall Street Journal, The AtlanticForbes, and Huffington Post have all already introduced various forms of sponsored content. While the idea of sponsored content is not new, Washington Post’s Sponsored Views is unique in that it allows organizations to engage interested consumers in a meaningful and persuasive way through its established Opinion section.

In addition to better engaging with target audiences, PR clients or organizations can immediately respond to a critical op-ed or rebut misinformation and distorted facts. Organizations can also advocate their position on an issue and help drive debate by providing commentary that will not get buried in existing comment threads. 

Given the limitations of traditional response vehicles such as rebuttal op-eds (timeliness) or letters to the editor (limited audience), in the right circumstances, “Sponsored Views” could prove to be an effective complementary communications tool. 

--Farrah