If people trust their peers most — as Richard Edelman revealed in his most recent episode of the EARshot podcast — then the turf between classic advertising and classic pr is CORPORATE GENERATED MEDIA, a term I have been using for about a year now. Corporate generated media involves thinking beyond the press release, and beyond the blog, not in terms of generating propaganda, but in terms of using the web and new media to communicate with integrity and authenticity.
As the success rate of new television programs proves, it not like the networks have a lock on creativity. And as the Jayson Blair and Rathergate scandals demonstrated, it’s not like the mainstream media has a lock on integrity or authenticity.
Thinking beyond the press release means we need to stop thinking about how to pitch stories to reporters, and start thinking about how to tell interesting, compelling stories ourselves.
I’m no PR historian, but it seems to me PR was originally about public relations, not media relations. As the media grew in authority, it became about media relations. As the media wanes in power, and with a revolution in personal publishing making it just as easy for people to turn to others like themselves for information and opinions, the real opportunity as I see it is about using new media channels to empower and amplify brand evangelists.
Thinking beyond the blog means recognizing that while blogs are excellent tools for individuals, they may lack the flexibility and scope to handle larger scale interactive marketing programs that require a more complete web publishing platform.
Beyond blogs is the live web, where corporate communicators and marketers have the ability to oversee and program content online — as actively and aggressively as CNN.com or nytimes.com — by transforming their static web presence into a dynamic online media center that recognizes feedback and participates in online conversations.
A podcast can be a program designed to promote a brand, product or service by empowering advocates to share their experiences with like minded consumers in a compelling, entertaining way, kind of like the podcast I do called On the Record…Online, which has been a more successful lead generation program for iPressroom than any other marketing initiative we’ve undertaken. (FYI…I have an upcoming episode featuring interviews with Phil Gomes and Steve Rubel.)
Good corporate generated media will not be about products or services. It will about the people who use them and their shared experiences. Corporate generated media will be about leveraging the web, new media, email, RSS, search optimization, blogs, podcasts, measurement and reporting in coordination with offline tactics, but very differently.
Corporate generated media, the turf between classic advertising and classic PR, will about developing, producing and syndicating marketer driven programming that is every bit as compelling as American Idol or Dancing with the Stars, but only to the right audience, which will be qualified by the nature of the content itself. That is to say, it will be only be compelling to an audience that is also a prospective consumer to the organization that produces it.