In a blog post called A 5-step guide to starting a brand journalism program,
It’s called brand journalism, and it uses social media to build influence, improve search results, and spread ideas and excitement about a particular industry. At its most basic level, brand journalism is journalism on behalf of a brand.
My initial reaction upon reading those words was: “WTF is ‘brand journalism’?”
A quick Google search reveals that I’m apparently very late to the game—brand journalism has been around for a while. In a nutshell, PR and Marketing departments have realized that customers are sick of their ads and have decided to adopt newsroom tactics to achieve their communication goals.
Not surprisingly, it’s already a controversial topic. But here are my two cents after reading Gray’s piece:
Ideally, traditional newsrooms are independent from their publishing companies. Company policies prevent CEOs and Business Managers from walking into a newsroom and telling reporters what to write. But in Gray’s post, he writes:
This [brand journalism] means moving beyond push communications, i.e. pushing out email marketing, direct mail, and advertising, in favor of pulling people to your business, which is a better long-term strategy.
If your newsroom is expected to generate sales leads, it is not independent.
Also, journalists fundamentally work on behalf of the public, not “on behalf of a brand” as Gray writes above. If a company decides to sponsor a newsroom purely for the benefit of the public interest, that’s great. But if your company sets up a newsroom to represent your brand, you shouldn’t call it journalism
That said, there is no reason to be overly negative about this.
For one thing, there are scores of news organizations out there whose content is driven by anything but the public’s interest. It would be hypocritical to accuse PR departments of bias without acknowledging the bias in traditional journalism as well.
Secondly, the examples Gray mentioned in his post are at least promising. We’re living in aworld where businesses, politicians and citizens all have the ability to set up their own blog and publish self-serving content to those who will listen. Any attempt of businesses to take their role in news more seriously should be welcomed with open arms.
Those are my two cents. What are yours?
- mediahacker posted this