What is the 'Third-Party Technique'

The third-party technique is a marketing strategy used by public relations firms that utilizes the media to propagate positive messaging about a client. The third-party technique may take many forms, but generally involves utilizing journalists to promote a company's products or services under the guise of news coverage. Such coverage is designed to be positive in nature and may utilize varying methods to achieve or simulate newsworthiness.

Breaking Down 'Third-Party Technique'

The third-party technique may involve the hiring of a reporter to create content that portrays a company in a positive manner or sponsoring an industry trade group or academic institution (known as a front group) to create dubious or skewed research that achieves the same goal. Astroturfing, which involves the creation of what appears to be a grassroots organization but in reality was created by a company or industry group to serve their interests, is an example of the third-party technique.

Individuals and groups that pass along messages from a public relations firm using the third-party technique rely on the public's perception of them being reliable and independent sources. The public has to believe that the parties presenting the message are genuine and working in their best interest, even if the individual or organization is part of a front group.

Third-party Technique and Ethics

The use of the third-party technique is often misleading or manipulative, as it tends to present highly skewed positions or half-truths unknowingly presented as fact by reputable media organizations. The recent growth of the third-party technique has led to the creation of organizations that monitor the use of astroturfing and other third-party marketing, such as PR Watch.

Public relations firms argue that the use of third-parties in disseminating information about a client is a legitimate strategy given the context of waning public perception of corporations and corporate spokespeople. Ideally, such messaging should come from authorities, academics, regulators, political leaders and other public officials. 

Third-party Technique Examples

A frequent example of the third-party technique involves providing advanced news or preferential access to journalists who will provide a positive review, or hiring researchers to present material that backs up a company's claims. Third-party techniques may also seek to latch onto a popular meme, idea, movie, book or other thing in the public eye to promote a message. For example, the 2012 movie "Won't Back Down," about parents who team up to reform an underperforming school, was criticized as a promotion for the privatization of public schools. Critics say the movie both oversimplified such efforts and especially the portrayal of the "parent trigger," which is a legal maneuver that allows parents to change the administration of an underperforming public school — usually by changing it to a charter school. PR Watch provides more examples of the third-party technique.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Third-Party Claims Administrator

    A third-party claims administrator processes claims for a third-party ...
  2. Third-Party Mortgage Originator

    A third-party mortgage originator is any third-party that works ...
  3. Third-Party Transaction

    A third-party transaction is a business deal with a buyer, a ...
  4. Third-Party Beneficiary

    A third-party beneficiary is an individual who can sue parties ...
  5. Third-Party Distributor

    A third-party distributor is an institution that sells or distributes ...
  6. Soft Sell

    Soft sell refers to an advertising and sales approach that features ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    Amazon's Marketplace Business Model Is Spreading (AMZN)

    Retailers are increasingly turning to the marketplace model adopted by Amazon, allowing third-party vendors to sell their wares on store websites.
  2. Investing

    Apple May Adopt Amazon's Strategy With New TV App Plan

    The iPhone maker’s TV app plan is designed to boost its fast-growing services business amid weakening iPhone sales.
  3. Small Business

    Public Relations: Offering Businesses A Competitive Advantage

    To maximize the sales potential of any business, a public relations program should be part of the master marketing plan.
  4. Investing

    Flipping Properties

    Flipping is a real estate investment strategy that can produce a large profit over a relatively short time period. Find out how this technique works and what pros and cons investors should consider ...
  5. Insights

    Needle In A Haystack: Stock Message Boards

    Stock message boards provide a great opportunity to read insightful information and opinions, but watch out for "trolls."
  6. Investing

    Mutual Funds: Brand Names Vs. House Brands

    Find out whether an in-house fund will serve you better than a major company's fund offerings.
  7. Investing

    Trailing-Stop Techniques

    The important decision to exit a position must be based on more than emotion if you want to be a disciplined trader.
  8. Insights

    Fidelity Investments Makes It Easier to Access Its Data With Mobile Apps

    Fidelity Investments launched an API that enables third-party financial websites and fintechs to access customer information.
  9. Personal Finance

    Learn More About Your Investments: Using XBRL In EDGAR

    This data-tagging system makes it easier than ever to research and analyze companies' financial information.
  10. Financial Advisor

    Is Private School for Your Child a Good Value?

    Parents want their kids to get a good education, but whether or not private school is worth it depends on more than just the cost.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Debt and collection agency

    Find out what happens when your debt account is sold from one collection agency to another and the impact on your balance ... Read Answer >>
  2. What are the similarities between product differentiation and product positioning?

    Learn how two marketing strategies, product differentiation and product positioning, are similar and work together to effectively ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center