The headlines come at us at a relentless pace:
“The biggest thing in mobile right now”
“This photo is unbelievable!”
“5 ways your life is going to change because of Obamacare”
The list of news stories clamoring for our attention is overwhelming as the editorial concept of serendipity has been replaced with “link bait.” The conversations I used to have with peers about strategies for re-engineering the to-do list have been replaced with conversations about methods for managing information overload.
The fierce competition among media outlets and social platforms will add considerable fuel to this problem while also creating a significant opportunity for organizations that are nimble and flexible enough to capitalize in it.
There is an increasing market for context for corporations, particularly professional services organizations, willing to pursue a true corporate journalism strategy. And journalists see the opportunity themselves as they make jumps from traditional media organizations into start-up content creators.
“Our mission is to create a site that’s as good at explaining the world as it is at reporting on it.”
– Ezra Klein on leaving The Washington Post to join Vox Media
Klein’s rationale for his departure from the Post, which was closely followed by a similar move by Bill Keller of The New York Times to media startup The Marshall Project, demonstrate the shift to context. Klein and Keller know that breaking news is becoming increasingly commoditized. Explaining the significance and impact of news to niche audiences is the new opportunity.
While there are certainly numerous examples of niche publications that focus on context, corporations today have a major asset in their corner – tremendous empathy surrounding the issues and challenges facing their clients and customers.
Tom Foremski, former Financial Times reporter and author of the “Silicon Valley Watcher” blog, famously stated that “Every company is a media company.” If this is true, then why have so many organizations been slow to adopt this mindset?
The answer may lie in the dominance of content marketing over corporate journalism. Both approaches are valuable, but not interchangeable. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing exists to “drive profitable customer action.” This is a worthwhile goal but one that conflicts with the role of corporate journalism.
True corporate journalism exists as a service to a specific audience. In doing so, it provides much needed context around the issues that impact a stakeholder’s approach to conducting business. Corporate journalism builds trust, informs and advocates. It does not convert customers, acquire leads or make sales directly.
Booz & Company’s strategy+business, which is one of our clients, is an example of how to do this effectively. The popular publication exists outside of the organization and, while it is aligned with the marketing strategy of the firm, it exists as a service to clients and prospects above all else.
But in order for corporate journalism to be successful, a company needs an editorial strategy – much like any news organization – and that strategy must align with a marketing strategy.
The market opportunity created by a desire for context is paved with trust. The only way to get there is through a service mindset.