Brand Journalism – Part 2: Why Now?

The concept of brand journalism has been practiced by a small group of communications professionals for over 30 year. Despite this it is now filtering into mainstream PR as part of daily operations for two, possibly three reasons.

brand journalism

Firstly, the explosion of social media has opened up a vast space in the media world which needs to be filled. By monitoring social media companies can identify exactly what stakeholders are interested in reading about and what engages them the most. With this in mind some people, including Danny Rogers, attribute the weakened traditional media and the development in technology to companies now producing their own content. In an increasingly fragmented media, the question now is, ‘who controls the message?’, and companies are making their play for this control by creating content on their channels.

Secondly, following the financial crisis of 2008 many members of the public lost faith in a lot of companies and thus building brand trust has become an issue for PR practitioners. Given the current financial climate and the decline in public expenditure, companies now have to battle harder to persuade people to invest in their product. People are also becoming wiser to the traditional marketing messages and simply ignore them, thus companies have to come up with more creative ideas in order to get their message across. As Patrick Coffee, author of the PRNewser Blog, has noted, The idea isn’t new; only the venue is.”

A possible but more skeptical opinion as to why brand journalism is now becoming a hotly discussed topic in the PR world is presented by Tom Foremski, who states that the term acts as a way of PR practitioners reinventing themselves as “brand Journalists” in order to diminish the negative perception of the PR industry. I would have to disagree with this as the concept of brand journalism has been around for several years. If PR professionals were trying to reinvent/diminish the negative perception of their industry wouldn’t they have tried to use the term 30 years ago, seeing as though this negative opinion of PR professionals, as well as the term ‘Brand Journalism’, have existed for years?

Brand journalism is a successful means of communication because it engages audiences in content they want to read. Furthermore it is fairly cheap to produce which means small companies with smaller budgets can now become contenders in the fight for consumer attention; as McLinitic comments on the Lewis PR blog, “their brand journalism efforts give them currency in the attention economy.”

Don’t forget to keep track of the Brand Journalism conversation on Twitter, and how it can benefit your organisation.

The last post in this trilogy will look at how Brand Journalism is affecting the traditional practice of PR. K


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