Tag Archives: media

Brand Journalism – a new hybrid of PR and business ?

by Ingrida Andrijauskaite

Brand Journalism – a new hybrid of PR and business ?

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It happened ten years ago, when one of the most famous companies in the world – McDonald’s decided to take a new look at advertising and the marketing of their products to consumers. In 2004 McDonald’s started to call it “brand journalism” strategy. This was the first time this trend appeared in the public space. McDonald’s wanted to show that a brand’s story can’t be an over-simplification of a complex idea.

McDonald’s showed that there is a need to look more deeply at the product and the methods of communication which can help to reach the different demographics – different people in varying situations with different needs.

This was exemplified by the new “I’m lovin’ it” campaign; McDonald’s rejected the traditional marketing and advertising approaches focusing on a single, recurrent message in preference of a “content stream approach,” which involves various messages via different channels to multiple audiences.

What is Brand Journalism and why is there a need for it in business?

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Firstly, it is interesting to look deeper at the meaning of brand journalism and try to ascertain why this method has become increasingly popular in the business area.

It can’t be said that this trend is very new in business, because it appeared ten years ago. However, it is just now that this term is beginning to be used in the communication strategies of business companies with a selective target audience.

There are many professionals who analyse brand journalism, but as of yet there is no strict theoretical definition of brand journalism. Brand Journalism is considered as the first wide–ranging practical guide to this hybrid form of traditional journalism, marketing and public relations. Therefore, it can also be referred to as corporate journalism or corporate media. This trend has come from the practical nature of business communications strategies.

The companies are increasingly using and creating journalistic content in their brand communications to the public. They are hiring camera crew and journalists to help prepare the video montage, the text of the news and the content of the brand communications, and to find the best ways of properly representing the company to their target audience.

However, the most popular definition of this trend which is mentioned by communications experts is a method of journalistic storytelling that focuses on communicating messages that consumers care about. It helps attract, inform and engage the target audience of every business companies.

The journalist and author of the book “Brand Journalism”, Andy Bull,  states that this new trend is a response to the fact that any organization can now use journalistic techniques to tell it‘s story directly to the public.[1]

Andy Bull

A journalist has defined the concept as “Journalism produced on behalf of a brand.” This definition sees it as techniques used by any organisations which have ongoing contact with the public. Andy Bull claims that the startegy of brand journalism is also used by companies working in the B2B sector. Brand journalism can be implemented to help businesses sell their products and services to orther organisations and to establish themselves as reliable and trustworthy institutions within their field.

The opinion of McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer, Larry Light, discussed in “Six Rules for Brand Revitalization” is that mass marketing and mass media no longer work. He explained this: “We no longer live in a world where mass marketing to masses of consumers with a mass message delivered through mass media makes money. In fact, mass marketing as we know it is dead.”

Andy Bull states that it is just as true for mass journalism: “Journalism has always been seen as serving a mass audience. Newspapers, magazines, television and radio – they are all mass media. Or they were. Now journalists are facing just the challenge that Light defined for marketers.”

We all know that every journalist has to focus on comprehensively researching and gathering information without any corruption or influence from corporations, powerful individuals, politicians, or public organizations. Journalists must be reliable informer and presenters of the news to the public. According to this, brand journalism must also focus on the reliable content of a brand and attaining the trust of the public.

One of the reasons why a method of storytelling is very important for all businesses – is that it improves the trust society has in the brand being presented to her. And the main aim is to show that the company is socially responsible across all of their services, products and promises in accordance with the ethical standards of society.

What can be taken from all of this is that brand journalism tries to help businesses to create interesting and original stories about their brand and team. Some great examples of campaigns are HSBC Business without Borders, Survey Monkey, Mail Chimp who are in the lead with their efforts concerning brand journalism.

It is important for companies to remember to create and foster a reliable connection with society. If the company is open and genuine to the public, it helps to build fundamental trust and increasingly garners more interest in the brand.

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Does Brand Journalism split traditional journalism?

Brand Journalism is an ever-evolving discipline within public relations (PR) and business. It‘s not suprising that this trend creates a great deal of disagreement amongst professional journalists and media experts regarding its validity, values and potential harmful impact on traditional journalism.

The watchdog of traditional journalism state that the term of Brand journalism should be referred to as brand communications or content marketing, shedding the word “journalism”. This term is considered to aptly describe the manner of information transfer in the marketing and PR fields. This could be misleading to users and the public, as it does not have the same connotations of media transparency and corporation integrity.

So all the problems with ethics, values or social responsibilities of business will be applied to traditional journalism. This may decrease the trust society to journalism has in journalism and the ethics and worth of traditional journalism. If brand journalism is actively used in the public domain, it may be very difficult to ensure that it is distinguished from traditional journalism. This is the main reason why the majority of media professionals are looking very carefully at this new hybrid – brand journalism.

The new opportunities for business

Although it is harder to find the results obtained by brand journalism, marketing and PR professionals agree that this is one of the best methods to encourage companies to actively use ‘storytelling’ in their brand communications or in the public space.

Brand journalists concentrate on the overall positive impact of brand journalism, because it will provide the novelty, courage, variety and authenticity to companies’ communications. Also, the storytelling part is informative and engaging for audiences, and makes them want to know  how the story ends.

On a final note, Brand journalism can help businesses to improve by finding more effective ways to communicate with their existing and potential clients.

Check out the interview about Brand Journalism and its value for business:

[1] http://www.brand-journalism.co.uk/introduction-to-the-subject/what-brand-journalism-is/

 

Edelman Trust Barometer 2015: low British public trust in media, government and business

by Ingrida Andrijauskaite

Edelman Trust Barometer 2015: low British public trust in media, government and business

A few days ago the most recent findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer Survey were revealed. The survey was executed by research firm Edelman Berland and sampled 27,000 general population respondents with an oversample of 6,000 informed publics ages 25-64 across 27 markets. The main focus was dedicated to the government, business and media sectors.

Some of the findings of this survey were that:

  • The UK is drifting in the ‘trust doldrums’, with trust in government, business and media flatlining.
  • Trust in the UK media has stagnated, as people blame publications for the media mishaps of 2014, which were rooted in commercial interests being prioritised over public interests.

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The CEO of Edelman’s, Ed Williams, made the following comment: “Key institutions in the UK such as Government, Media and Business have had a better year than previous ones but that has not been converted into increased levels of trust”. He also added that:

There is no doubt that we are stuck in a rut.  There is a real danger that the years of continuing low trust have permanently rewired our attitudes towards the institutions that shape our lives. It‘s becoming increasingly difficult for us to navigate out of the trust doldrums.”

(More information here: http://edelmaneditions.com/2015/01/edelman-trust-barometer-2015/).

The British public distrust the Media the most

The results of the survey of Edelman Trust Barometer reveal that British public mainly don’t trust the media. This trust registered at 38%  this year, which is 4%  less than 2014. It shows that the trust society has in the media is very poor and becoming worse.

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The statistics of the Edelman Trust Barometer show us that the trust the British public has in the government has slightly increased this year – 43%  a 1% increase from the previuos year. This data reveals that increases in distrust in business, government, NGOs and media coincided with the period of financial crisis. We may assume that, from 2012 year, trust in all of these organizations started slowly increasing. However the statistics of the Edelman Trust Barometer for this year are surprising.

Perhaps these results show us that the media was too strongly trusted prior to the financial crisis. During this time, people all over the world realised that they couldn’t find all the answers in the information presented by the media.

 The reasons for public distrust in media

One point could be that society has started to question the merchantability of the media and the reliability of the sources of information.

An example could be “promotional articles”. The companies try to find the best way how to promote their services or products in the newspapers and other media channels.

The main problem with these “promotional articles” is that they are generally prepared by unidentified advertisers, with no mention of the author or sources of information. This doesn‘t help in conveying a message of authenticity and reliability to readers.

The companies which are using “promotional articles” as a means of communicating their brand‘s message and informing the public about their product, do so in order that readers may be persuaded to buy what they are offering.

The public want to see a border between journalism and advertisiment as now it is very difficult to see information in the media which is unadulterated by the interests of the government, certain companies or individuals.

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The media theorist and academic Hugo de Burgh is keeping the position that the digitalization and commercialisation has the strongest and most damaging impact on journalism. He claims that today the media aims not only to maintain the attention of the readers, but also present events in such a way as to compete with advertising.

Journalist Kate Magee has said that some of reasons for the British distrust in the media lie in scandals such as the phone-hacking incident in 2011 and the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal in 2012.[1]

As the journalist K. Magee mentioned, more than 60% of respondents in 2014 said that their trust in the media is lower than for the other sectors due to immoral behaviour (38%) and a lack of regulation (23%). The second factor also has an influence on ethics. People are increasingly noticing the lack of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity and impartiality in the media channels such as newspapers or TV. These are considered to be the ethical standards and principles of Journalism.

This survey of the Edelman Trust Barometer potently exemplifies that the public consistently follow events and don’t miss or forgive the mistakes of the media. Each negative error has a strong effect on future public trust in the media.

[1] http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1228324/