FT: The invasion of corporate news – a must read

September 20, 2014 — Leave a comment


So many good quotes about the current state of brand publishing, brand journalism, native advertising and content marketing here from FT. A must-read…

The invasion of corporate news: The lines between journalism and PR are rapidly becoming blurred as business interests bypass traditional media to get their message across

“People these days don’t care as much about where the story comes from as long as it tells them something,” says Tomas Kellner, a Columbia Journalism School-trained former Forbes journalist who now edits GE Reports.

General Electric’s online news site has evolved from a list of press releases to a virtual magazine using animated gifs, professional photography, videos and infographics (“all the different points of entry we used at Forbes”, Kellner notes) which features tales of innovation, science and technology from around the giant industrial group. Many are engaging and informative, and some – such as a feature on a Japanese indoor lettuce farm powered by 17,500 GE LED lights – get as many as 500,000 readers.

The Wall Street Journal’s newsroom is not involved in sponsored content but its commercial team tells advertisers it can “deploy sophisticated storytelling techniques in order to help brands create content-driven connections with audiences”. For some reporters and editors, this is tantamount to media being complicit in its own displacement. Yet few readers have protested.

For PR Week’s Barrett, this point is at the heart of the debate over whether “brand journalism” counts as journalism. “Is it news? At the end of the day, the consumer decides,” he says.

As trust in business has fallen, the appeal of telling stories that humanise companies has grown. The history of advertorials shows that brands have long wanted their advertisements to look like news, but as the subjects of news increasingly want to decide what counts as news, and as they get ever more skilled at doing so, they are posing a challenge to journalism’s traditional storytellers.

Appropriately, the challenge may have been summed up best by the words of their new digital competitor at GE: “Our content has to be as good as theirs, if not better.”

Definitely read the whole piece: The invasion of corporate news – FT.com.

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