Editor’s note: This is the 10th in a series of 12 guest posts from industry executives predicting key trends that will impact the public relations industry in 2012. Hosted under the hashtag #PRin2012, the series began Dec. 19, 2011, with a compilation post previewing all 12 predictions.
Audience fragmentation and downsizing have taken their toll on the traditional news media. One trend filling the gap is “Brand Journalism.” It refers to the practice of an organization employing its own “reporters” to cover its events/announcements and then publish reports using the conventions of news.
Layoffs and rapid turnover mean many PR pros are finding it difficult to establish solid relationships or earn the attention their promotional efforts may deserve. Enter Brand Journalism.
The advantage of Brand Journalism grows with the ubiquity of the Web:
- Google owns 65 percent of the search market share, according to ComScore, and it has added press releases from wire services to its Google News aggregator (though consumers do have the option to filter them out, along with blogs).
- Coincidentally, 65 percent of adults use social networking sites (up from 61 percent in 2010), according to research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Services like Twitter are attracting more news consumers every day with the speed they can deliver current events (far faster than traditional news outlets).
A company could potentially have more visibility producing its own content as opposed to relying on the news media to carry its message (provided it’s indexed properly).
Brand Journalism is fraught with ethical perils, however. Both Chevron and British Petroleum (BP) drew fire for their own Brand Journalism by employing it during crises and giving themselves undeservedly-positive treatment.
Ironically, one of the best visible models for Brand Journalism is “Howard 100 News” — the entity created by Howard Stern for his programming on Sirius/XM satellite radio. The team is stocked with investigative news veterans who have free reign to cover the good and the bad (often to Stern’s chagrin), which gives them credibility with their audience (word to the wise).
Derek DeVries (@Derek DeVries) is a social media-obsessed PR pro, professor and communications technology manager at Grand Rapids Community College.