The Scripps-owned HGTV recently partnered with Examiner.com to “seed” editorial coverage of the network’s television programs, according to Laurie Sullivan.
Sullivan reports that HGTV purchased online advertising in return for which local “Examiners” were encouraged to write about HGTV shows. Sullivan writes:
“[Jonah Spegman of Scripps] says a recent campaign tapped into the Examiner Connect Program to promote awareness for an HGTV show called ‘Property Virgins.’ This campaign included a display campaign against relevant Examiner content sections from writers that focus on real estate and homes to call attention to the organic articles that Examiners’ writers wrote about the show.”
Examiner.com has 55,000 writers in more than 200 markets across the U.S. and Canada. Contributors are paid based on a variety of metrics, including page views. So, in addition to writing a story about “Property Virgins,” they are also likely to promote their work via Facebook updates or tweets.
Sullivan writes that the effort resulted in “hundreds” of original articles about the show, as well as increased visibility in social media networks.
Spegman told Sullivan that HGTV had no input into the specifics of the coverage, good or bad. However, the goal of such a campaign is to generate search results and social media buzz, which is served even by negative reviews.
Examiner.com rejects the label of “content farm” but the purchase of editorial coverage — for the purpose of search engine and social media optimization — ought to be what concerns traditional newsrooms.