How Subscription Models Like Meta Verified and X Premium Have Transformed the PR Landscape How the verification checkmarks affect the PR landscape, shifting from credibility badges to mere identity confirmations and what this means for genuine brand storytelling in the digital age.

By Hanna Shanar

Key Takeaways

  • How the value of the verification badge has changed with the introduction of subscription models — and what it means for the PR industry.

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In the not-so-distant past, the elusive verification checkmark on social media was an emblem of influence, credibility and hard-earned recognition. To have that blue tick next to your name was akin to a digital knighthood, signifying that you weren't just anyone — you were someone of note.

Brands and influencers would invest heavily, sometimes to the tune of thousands of dollars, in comprehensive PR strategies, striving for extensive media coverage to achieve this coveted badge. Enter 2023, and the game has dramatically changed.

Related: Has Meta Verified Ruined the Value of the Coveted Blue Check Mark?

Verification: A commodity at a small price

Platforms have introduced a novel way to get verified. Meta Verified and X Premium (formerly known as Twitter Blue) now allow users to obtain this verification for just $14.99 or less a month. A significant departure from days of yore when brands and individuals spent vast sums, often employing PR agencies, to build a robust online presence through organic media placements. This symbol, once a testament to your influence, now merely stands as a confirmation that you are who you claim to be, devoid of any implications of credibility or prominence.

The true cost of verification

While $14.99 might sound like a paltry sum for immediate verification, we must assess the broader implications. The prior requirement of achieving this badge organically meant that not just anyone could have it. It acted as a filter, ensuring that those who sported the checkmark had genuinely noteworthy online presences. This naturally added to the allure and value of the verification badge. With its democratization, its sheen of exclusivity has been eroded.

Implications for the PR industry

If the blue tick is no longer a direct reflection of one's media presence and influence, where does this leave the PR industry? There's no denying that the immediate incentive for brands to invest in PR campaigns, with the hope of obtaining verification, has been significantly diluted. However, it would be an oversimplification to assume that PR's importance has been wholly marginalized.

With verification now just a click and a nominal payment away, the role of PR is primed for evolution, not extinction. The objective shifts from merely aiming for recognition to creating a tangible, authentic and lasting brand image. This involves nuanced storytelling, genuine audience engagement and reinforcing the brand's ethos consistently. In essence, while the path to verification might have been simplified, the journey to genuine brand resonance has not. PR remains the compass guiding that journey.

The lasting value of organic media presence

Although Meta Verified and X Premium have made the checkmark easily accessible, the intrinsic value of organic media presence remains unparalleled. Earned media placements, genuine endorsements and organic audience interactions continue to be gold standards of authenticity. They offer depth, character and a multi-faceted narrative that a purchased badge simply cannot replicate.

Related: 'This Will Be a Nightmare': Mark Cuban Slams Elon Musk's New Twitter Verification System

Rethinking PR strategies

In this new landscape, PR professionals need to articulate and demonstrate the broader benefits of organic media engagement. Campaigns should be designed with a holistic view, emphasizing long-term brand equity over short-term gains. After all, in a world where verification can be bought, genuine brand stories become the real differentiators.

As digital platforms continue to evolve, and the lines between organic and paid recognition blur, the quest for authenticity becomes paramount. Brands and users alike will need to look beyond superficial badges and delve deeper into what truly resonates with audiences. PR, with its emphasis on authentic storytelling and genuine audience connections, remains at the heart of this quest.

While Meta Verified and X Premium have undeniably altered the value proposition of the verification badge, they've also highlighted the indispensable role of authentic PR. Brands and influencers must understand that while badges can be bought, credibility, trust and genuine influence are earned. As the digital landscape becomes increasingly cluttered, the onus is on brands and individuals to distinguish themselves, not just through badges but through genuine narratives and meaningful connections. In this endeavor, PR's role is not just relevant, but more crucial than ever.

Hanna Shanar

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO & Founder of The Publicity Hub | PubHub

Hanna Shanar is a best selling author, fourth year medical student, and CEO & founder of The Publicity Hub. PubHub is a public relations & consulting firm renowned for capitalizing on a diversified global-network to create captivating press campaigns for clients.

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