PR’s acceptance of brand content uneven – report

April 21, 2016 8:25 am

PRs are increasingly working with so-called brand journalists, both furthering the influence of their clients and helping those content creators produce higher quality content. Or so you’d think.

CCUK ResponseSource Report

This year’s study of the UK PR community, conducted by Collective Content and ResponseSource, paints a more complex picture.

For example:

  • Fewer PRs told us they are being contacted by brand journalists (58.1 per cent in 2016 versus 67 per cent in 2015).
  • But more PRs told us they treat such enquiries just as they would those from traditional journalists (53.6 per cent in 2016 versus 39.4 per cent in 2015).

When will the two groups be on a par?

  • Those telling us, ‘They are now’, decreased (12 per cent in 2016 versus 17 per cent in 2015).
  • Whereas those saying, ‘Never’, also decreased, strongly (27.4 per cent in 2016 versus 42 per cent in 2015)

As you can see, there are contradictions in these results, making an overall trend hard to discern.

You could say the short-term picture looks worse for those practising brand journalism, while things look more positive in the long term.
We should note that this year we had a bigger sample size – polling 266 PRs – but only a minority of those were the same people we spoke to last year.

Other findings we unearthed were around the acceptance of terms such as ‘content marketing’ and ‘native advertising’, and we found those at PR agencies to be slightly more open to brand content and brand journalism than in-house PRs.

Part of the difficulty in predicting what will happen over the next 12 months is because the worlds of PR and journalism are both changing. Just as many agencies will speak to all kinds of influencers – besides traditional journalists and brand content creators, there are others in the mix – so too many writers and other content creators will do different kinds of work. We know this from the people we work with today.

Last year, we concluded our post describing the survey findings by emphatically looking towards 2016. We wrote:

“Cards on the table, we expect more in PR to embrace brand journalists (preferably we’ll all come up with a better name by then), to the benefit of both groups.”

After this year’s poll, however, we have to conclude that such an ‘embrace’ is debatable. And, no, we haven’t yet come up with a better term than ‘brand journalist’.

That said, we remain confident about the future of content produced by brands. We would say that, you’re probably thinking. But consider that a world in which it is becoming harder to reach audiences (people skipping TV ads, ad blocking display formats, general distrust of the media and so on), as well as cultural shifts – often generational – means that fewer people expect to be sold to. They want entertainment from consumer brands, and mainly useful or educational content from those in B2B (with some fun allowed too).

We’d love to hear your feedback on this subject and this year’s report, so please email us using our contact form or write on our Facebook page.
Download the full PDF report here [link no longer available]. Look out for more analysis of our findings over the coming weeks.


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