At the start of every New Year, it seems that each industry sends out a list of top predictions for what’s to come… and PR is no different. There have already been lots of expectations set around 2013 being the year for further social media growth, the rising importance of visual representations, and increased measurement for ROI, to name a few. But, one trend that has caught my eye for 2013 is brand journalism.
What is brand journalism you may ask? This growing trend is when brands create their own journalistic content instead of relying on traditional, third-party media sources. Used as an incredibly effective self-publishing tool, more and more companies are realizing the impact brand journalism can have on shaping their company’s public perception and message.
In a recent video interview, Stacey Acevero, social media manager at Vocus, described brand journalism, saying, “Instead of letting the media create stories about you and shaping the perception about your brand, you want to shape the perception of your brand yourself using your own media.”
Already a hot topic at shows like SXSW this past year, I believe brand journalism is getting an extra boost from two driving forces: (1) the declining traditional media market and (2) the choice of many top-tier journalists (and analysts!) to go in house as company evangelists.
Of course, these two forces go hand in hand. Between 2008 and 2010, 13,500 journalists lost their jobs. And, seeing a need (or perhaps creating a demand) for in-house, corporate writers, becoming a company evangelist was a natural fit. Remember Denise Dubie, formerly of Network World, Andrew Hay, formerly of the 451 Group, or Cindy Borovick, formerly of IDC?
But, despite the many benefits of brand journalism, does this trend pose a threat to the PR industry? With content creation becoming an increasingly important aspect of public relations, initially, one may think bringing evangelists in house would detract from one of PR’s core components. However, this is not the case. According to Juliana Allen, Vice President at March Communications, brand journalism still doesn’t allow for the third-party validation that is such a critical component of PR.
Smart companies will use the two in parallel – similar to how closely advertising and PR used to be – and divide the content creation among the two, says Allen. There’s no doubt that the need for content has increased, but there is room to share, and, by doing so, both corporate evangelists and PR pros can create more insightful and meaningful content across the board.
As content creation can often be one of the most time consuming aspects for PR teams, by working with brand journalists, not only can PR pros can get more interesting material to use for pitches and longer form content, but they can also regain the time otherwise spent on content creation, says Allen. This allows more time to really hone in on pitching and cultivating relationships with key members of the press.
What do you think? Will the rising brand journalism trend positively or negatively impact the public relations field?