April 4, 2010

Ike Pigott on the future of reporting

Ike Pigott argues that, as the number of conventional journalists plummets, corporations will have to hire their own “embedded” journalists to fill the void. As he puts it:

The embeds of the future will work for the company, and be paid by the company to provide news about the company in a multitude of formats. Print, newsletter, video, blog, podcast, moving billboards, tattoos — whatever it takes. Because the bits and pieces of Corporate America that have a story to tell will still have their stories – just no ready outlets.

How is this different than what you have today? Surely there are corporate PR departments and external agencies already doing these things, right?


What is required is an internal producer who writes in external voice — like the neutral point-of-view so often described by Wikipedia. People can smell marketing and propaganda coming around the corner, and they know when the pitches and puff pieces are missing that edge of neutrality. An accurate and fair piece is accurate and fair, no matter who writes it.

It’s an interesting theory, but it seems to presuppose dual marketing communication efforts, with separate departments of “Straightforwardness” and “Hype”. That may work at some companies, but in most cases I think it will be more practical to try to infuse straightforwardness through multiple parts of the marcom effort.

My more specific quick responses include:

Bottom line: I think he’s wrong about some of his detailed views, but Ike Pigott is directionally very right in suggesting that newsmakers will increasingly become content creators for news about themselves.


5 Responses to “Ike Pigott on the future of reporting”

  1. Dana Todd on April 5th, 2010 7:40 pm

    I’d like to add a PS to this article, regarding where to put all this delicious content. Of course, you put it in RSS and various sites. But, if one simply posts it on various sites and waits for searchers on YouTube and Google to find it, then you’re limiting its reach and lifespan. Check the average number of “views” on branded content in YouTube that isn’t a sexy consumer brand, and you’ll see what I mean.

    I would humble suggest that your content strategists weight the merits of putting some ad dollars into promoting the content in news cycles alongside editorial.

    Some of the companies to watch in the space (including my own, of course):

    – Newsforce
    – Outbrain
    – Zemanta
    – Adfusion

    There are others I’ve come across that seem to rely primarily on widget adoption and related-content targeting, but the list above are the ones with the highest penetration of desirable/premium news outlets as partners.

    Great article, btw…couldn’t agree more. I am just biding my time until there’s a whole new breed of “corporate storytellers” who are part search marketer, part PR, part digital media planner and part content strategist. Perhaps you’ll start the fire…

  2. Dana Todd on April 5th, 2010 7:43 pm

    having trouble getting your comments form to work…keep getting 500 errors. will try to put this in para by para to figure out what character is freaking it out.

  3. Melissa Bradshaw on April 6th, 2010 10:29 am

    Hi Dana, this is Curt’s web designer. I think I got the form issue resolved. Thanks for letting us know!

  4. Ike on April 12th, 2010 8:09 pm

    Hi Curt — thanks for Tweeting this, because I would not have found it otherwise.

    I don’t know that I have it all answered, and I am sure the future will prove me wrong on a few counts. But we are looking at some undeniable trends:

    1) Businesses and organizations can now talk straight to the public (and likely a public that is more opt-in and receptive.)

    2) There are fewer journalists working, which means either fewer stories or less vetting.

    3) The journalism jobs are collapsing now, and aren’t waiting for us to figure it out.

    4) Businesses ARE indeed noticing the impact on Earned Media, and aren’t going to wait for the iPad to save Rupert Murdoch’s butt (or however it is couched tomorrow.)

    Add all those in, and you will see organizations start to hire in the people who can tell their story in an engaging way. You are right to see the conflict that might erupt when you have a biased-because-they-have-to-be traditional PR staff, and the more open transparent communicators.

    It won’t be an easy transition for many companies, but as Earned and Placed continue to sink in effectiveness and audience, something will give.

    I suppose you could say the hardest part about this path we’re on the the New Editors (those who remain in traditional J shops) will have to swallow the reality that they must be more aggregator and BS detector than independent content creator.

    Thanks for continuing the discussion — and it is VERY flattering to have one’s name included in a post title.

    ps – I thought this was worthy of following up too, and I did so on my own site: http://ike4.me/o59

  5. Kartik Agaram on July 22nd, 2010 4:31 am

    Being straightforward is one potential way for advertisers to connect with real people. I think it’s idealistic and more than a little unrealistic. Here’s a more realistic approach: build ads that spread. Design ads that people will share. Companies will become meme optimizers. We’re starting to see this – just look at the old spice ad campaign.

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