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|Tuesday, May 31, 2011|
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Exploring Brand Journalism in Asia
I was recently asked by Campaign Asia Magazine for some thoughts on corporate/brand journalism in Asia. It was interesting to give this topic an Asian airing. While I’ve been following developments in North America, with industry commentators such as David Meerman Scott driving the charge, it was interesting to see the extent to which Asian brands were taking Tom Foremski at his word and becoming media companies.
What recent developments have there been in corporate journalism in Western markets and how and is this trend taking shape in Asia?
In North America and Western Europe we’re seeing more companies hiring former journalists into corporate journalist roles. The driver for this is the realization that every company is now a media company. They no longer need to rely on traditional media outlets to print or broadcast their stories. Tools such as Facebook, Twitter, RSS and blogging allow them to publish. However, just because you can publish, doesn’t mean you should. Companies still need to be able to tell a compelling story – and that’s where journalists come in. One recent example of this in action is SAP’s hiring of InformationWeek’s CIO Bob Evans as a communications strategist and contributor.
Corporate or brand journalism is very much in its infancy in Asia. While many journalists have made a journey to the PR ‘dark side’ over the years, this is most often into account management roles. The thinking has frequently been that their knowledge of the inner workings of a newsroom combined with great contacts will create better coverage opportunities.
While the decline in the number of traditional media outlets isn’t as pronounced in Asia as it is in the US, we’re certainly seeing a decline in revenue which is forcing staffing restructures in many markets. The rise of bloggers as influencers combined with access to global information sources through channels such as twitter is affecting Asian trade and niche publishers in particular.
As a result, we’re seeing some Asian brands beginning their transition into becoming media companies. Technology companies in particular have taken the lead, with India’s Infosys maintaining a number of popular blogs. Alibaba’s Alizila news website is one of the best examples of a company embracing corporate journalism. Alibaba hired former Time Magazine Editor Jim Erickson to maintain the site that covers Alibaba Group companies and the wider industry. Critically, Alizila presents balanced coverage – not just corporate good news.
What are the dos and don’ts when it comes to corporate journalism?
The do’s – create information that is valuable for your audience. Whether it’s through videos, tweets, infographics, blog posts or eBooks, make sure you’re giving your audience something they want to read and share. Unfortunately the bulk of corporate communications today is focused on the media as an audience. Press releases, for example, seldom even meet their specific requirements – let alone those of the people brands really want to influence.
The don’ts? To paraphrase David Meerman Scott, it “…is not a product pitch. It is not an advertorial. It is not an egotistical spewing of gobbledygook-laden corporate drivel. It needs to present opinions in a journalistic way and not be afraid to be critical. That’s why journalists are often the best people to create this type of compelling content.
Why should Asian brands engage in corporate journalism?
The value in corporate journalism for Asian brands is being able to tell stories and grow a community around their brand without relying solely on mainstream media to interpret their stories. However, there’s a catch. Unless the stories are interesting, well-written, balanced and devoid of what the Cluetrain Manifesto called “facile corporate happytalk” then they won’t find nor sustain an audience.
Is this trend likely to develop and take hold in Asia?
While mainstream media holds its audience – and until conservative attitudes to influence and decision-making are challenged - we’ll only see a small number of brands realize the potential of becoming media companies. Corporate journalism will grow as the audiences start to move away from traditional media outlets in favour of other sources. If the lessons from North America are anything to go by, this won’t be a gradual shift. The opportunity for brands in Asia is to create compelling content now – as the ‘end game’ is to build communities around their brands – and in order to do that, they need to create engaging content. - Jeremy Woolf, Senior Vice President, Text 100 Hong Kong
*Photo credit: Flickr user DuncanMacinnis
News Flash: Journalists Still Want Your Email Pitches... and Your Twitter Pitches, Too
Journalism is more social than ever. A quick visit to Muck Rack, a database of journalists on Twitter, reveals hundreds – if not thousands – of Twitter handles owned by reporters at nearly every major news outlet. Facebook recently launched its Journalist Program Initiative to help journalists understand how best to use the platform for content promotion and sourcing.
Recognizing this growing trend of social media usage among journalists, there’s been a number of surveys popping up that look at how journalists are using Twitter and Facebook to source and verify stories. Read more...
PR Lessons from C-SPAN
As a political junkie, I can’t get enough of the news and gossip from inside the beltway. My iPhone is usually tuned into C-SPAN Radio instead of Pandora. So when C-SPAN’s Steve Scully came to Rochester last week to speak at a PRSA event, I was excited to slip out of my PR hat for a bit and immerse myself in all-things election 2012. But while Steve discussed what he believes makes or breaks a presidential campaign, I couldn’t help but relate it back to what we do every day as PR professionals. And even though I always thought presidential politics was a world away from the work we do at Text 100, Steve’s golden rules for the campaign trail apply perfectly to our own campaigns. Read more...Finding Online Statistics About Almost Anything
The internet, as we all know, has a plethora of information out there just waiting to be found. But how can you easily mine pages and pages of data to find what you are looking for?
In the PR business we often require the latest and greatest up-to-date statistics to strengthen media pitches and press releases, client and new business proposals and sometimes even to share on Twitter to make us look more intelligent than we already are! But have no fear communications professional, the brains trust at Text 100 is willing to share some of its secrets with the interwebs. Read more...
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