07:45 AM

Brand Journalism And The Unstoppable Rise Of Corporate Media

Last week's panel on brand journalism at the Holmes Report's Global PR Summit in Miami was fabulous. We lost control of the conversation and made so much noise in our room, people from other panels were coming over, curious to see what was happening.

My fellow panelists were John Earnhardt from Cisco (Cisco is my original inspiration for 'every company is a media company'), Jesse Noyes from Eloqua, and Simon Sproule from Nissan Motor Co.

Morgan McLintic from Lewis PR was excellent as the moderator and we didn't waste time getting deep into discussion.

What made it especially wonderful was that the conversation escaped the podium. The audience waited a respectful ten minutes then dived in without waiting for question time. I love when that happens.

The artificial division of the podium dissolved away and audience and panel plunged into an incredibly engaged discussion about the future of media and who will fund it. It became a society of peers, not podiums, and one of the most spirited debates I've ever encountered at a conference.

It generated some very interesting ideas which I'll share in the next posts.

First things first, we all agreed that the term "Brand Journalism" doesn't need to exist, a simpler term is "Corporate Media."

No one tried to defend the term "Brand Journalism," including, surprisingly, Morgan McLintic, our fearless moderator and the inspiration for the panel subject: Are PR People Ready to Become Brand Journalists?

Jesse Noyes from Eloqua, said it well: "I hate the term brand journalism because it is provocative for no good reason."

I agree. It confuses and distracts. It does nothing to educate people on a very important trend sweeping through the business world: the corporation's role as a mass media publisher.

The rise of corporate media is just in its infancy and there's many more important subjects to discuss, which is exactly what we did.

It was all part of Morgan's cunning plan for a lively debate, and it worked.

Some of the subjects that came up:

- Who will fund journalism? We are entering a world where special interest groups will gladly pay for the media they want you to read, but you won't pay for the media you need to read.

How will we pay for the quality journalism we need? If we have junk media we will make junk decisions about important issues. Garbage in, garbage out.

Could corporate media become the new business model for producing the media we need?

You might be surprised at how such a scenario might actually work and work well. I'll explain in my next posts.

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Please see: Can PR People Become Brand Journalists? What Is It? - SVW

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Thanks to Lewis PR, and Holmes Report for the opportunity to take part in the first Global PR Summit conference. It had a great turnout, even though hurricane Sandy stopped about a quarter of the attendees from reaching Miami.

Jon Iwata from IBM was excellent, and so were several of the other speakers.

[Meet IBM's Jon Iwata: "Most Forward Thinking" Communications Professional... - SVW]

Although there were the usual self-promotional panels and sessions, the conference was balanced by many positive factors.

I'd gladly go again but I would probably skip the SABRE awards dinner. Fifty awards plus videos during dinner is a horrible torture. It would have been unbearable if not for the pleasurable company of every one on the Hill & Knowlton table.

(I heard that we got off lightly, Holmes Report sometimes puts on 150 award dinners!)

Also, it was great to see Sean Garrett, the former head of communications at Twitter, taking part in our panel discussions.

And it was good to catch up with Aarti Shah, former Bay Area Bureau Chief for PR Week, and now at March Communications.

More from the conference later this week.