How Branded Content is Changing Journalism

It goes without saying – in the 2015 media landscape, content is king. The days when an entire country was reading just a handful of publications to get their news and entertainment are gone. Now, in addition to skimming the investigative long form story on the New York Times homepage, consumers are flitting through interactive quizzes on Buzzfeed and the latest viral video from Coca-Cola posted on Facebook. The line is blurred – popular content no longer just originates from the journalism school grad. It can come from anyone.

The fact that brands can, and are, some of the world’s most prolific content creators isn’t exactly new. Brands have always been associating themselves with the mass media in an effort to ingratiate themselves with a target demographic. Proctor and Gamble for example was the inventor of the radio soap opera back in the 1930s, in an effort to subconsciously reach the bored housewife – a partnership that extended up until the cancellation of As The World Turns in 2009, the last P&G sponsored soap.

But with the advent of the internet it has become easier than ever for brands to start producing their own content. From native advertising to thought leadership there is a content marketing solution for every company depending on how much time and creativity they are willing to expel in the name of ingratiating themselves with consumers.

This proliferation of branded content has made the public relation professional’s role of capturing native coverage all the more critical for brands. With publications turning to branded content to bolster their digital revenues, and brands jumping on the opportunity to publish their own content on widely recognized platforms, the space for organic coverage of exciting new companies shrinks. After all, why would a journalist write about you for free when his publication can get paid for you to write about yourself?

This is where public relations matters more than ever – media relations professionals are able to leverage relationships and build story angles that journalists will deem worthy of organic coverage. Simultaneously, the modern PR-person takes on the responsibility of honing their client’s branded content to be both on-message and engaging to a broader audience. In the same way that companies and publications have brought their distinct realms together through branded content, so too has the PR industry had to adapt beyond media relations. Today’s PR agency houses a team of content creators capable of producing stories that can authentically promote clients within the news trends of the day.

Journalism sure has changed thanks to the continued rise of branded content, but rest assured – the PR world is changing right along side it.

by Tess VandenDolder


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