New York writer BJ Ochman observed early in 2010 that “self-proclaimed social media gurus were multiplying like rabbits.” She noted that in mid-2009, there were about 4,500 people on Twitter who claimed to be social media gurus. The number jumped to 16,000 just six months later.
Ochman made the point that as your company or agency scrambles to get up to speed on social media, it is wise to remember that “guru” is something someone else calls you. Conversely, the consultants others are likely to call gurus:
- Bring experience to the table;
- Sell solutions, not formulas;
- Don’t promise that social media will provide a quick fix for your bottom line.
We now see the same thing happening unfortunately to the practice brand journalism as self-annointed “experts” without achievements, case histories or news credentials jump on-board.
Just a few months ago, a Google search of the term showed just a handful of accomplished people who were either working in the field of brand journalism or exploring its possibilities in their roles as communications experts – people like David Meerman Scott, Cristina Muntean in Central Europe, Aurélie Charpentier in Paris, Seth Godin and Brian Solis and me, the guy wearing three hats in that group as pioneer, journalist and practitioner.
Today, while there is healthy discussion about the term, brand journalism, and its potential in the field of communications, there is also a predictable cast of characters hanging out their marketing shingles as
snake oil salesman, social media guru, and now, “brand journalist.” Let the buyer beware.
Chief Executive magazine recently published a survey showing that “Internet media channels” are the second most important new form of communications that CEOs consider valuable, behind social media. It is not the conventional online newsrooms – which are nothing more than press release graveyards – but actual, real-time online media … authentic news resources.
The way I view it, brand journalism is a significant and valuable component of strategic communications. Yet, I would caution any company considering brand journalism to (1) hire experience, not hype; (2) expect measurable solutions, not formulas; and, (3) consider brand journalism to be one of many important elements in an organization’s communications strategy.