Sometimes you might pay for editorial. And that’s OK.

It used to be that, if you paid for editorial coverage, it meant one of two things: Either you weren’t working with the most credible publication or your PR strategy wasn’t good.

In the past couple of years, this has shifted immensely. Many highly reputable media offer opportunities to pay for native or sponsored content within their digital or print pages. And sometimes, taking advantage of these opportunities can be an excellent part of your PR strategy.

When should I pay to play? There are a couple of moments where it can make sense for the real estate you want:

If you’re growing and you want to take your story from, for example, local media into a national trade publication or even a major business or daily pub, you might be relatively unknown. You may need to pay for some space to start to get in front of editors and earn some credibility to help you pitch for editorial coverage in the future.

If you’re trying to reach a big tough-to-grab audience like the C-suite, you’re competing with a lot of other stories for that attention. As with other paid tactics, this may be a time to pay to reach the audience you absolutely want to be in front of.

PR is about making brand stories timely and relevant. But sometimes the story you know in your gut is exactly right for your audience will not exactly be what an editor wants to cover at that moment. If you’ve got the messaging nailed and you want the credibility for your brand to be crystal clear, paying for the opportunity — and the control — can be the way to go.

How do I use paid editorial coverage correctly?

Work with your PR team to identify the right media partner for you. They should consider the audience you’ll reach, any metrics the media partner can provide about average audience engagement to expect and the return you’ll be able to get for the price of your investment. Costs and packages vary significantly, so you’ll still want to make sure to choose the best opportunity that makes sense for what you want to get out of it.

When it comes to creating the actual copy, your PR team can help you keep it authentic. You paid for the space, but some sponsored media packages still come with guidelines to follow. And your investment will do best for you if it’s authentic and useful to your audience.

Sometimes, it’s OK to pay to play.