Corporate news may not be news as we know it… but that’s not the end of the story

A lengthy article in the Financial Times entitled The invasion of corporate news discusses the growing trend for businesses to generate their own news, publishing it themselves outside the usual media channels to reach the wider public. The ever-falling barriers to publication have opened up a new sphere to aspiring journalists, and working within the business world no longer necessarily means going over to the “dark side” from which to bombard former colleagues with press releases, but instead can be a place to develop a respectable professional career producing information.

But isn’t there a fundamental problem at the heart of so-called brand journalism or corporate news? Who on earth would actually believe that this could ever really be considered news in the traditional sense? Well it isn’t, and doesn’t pretend to be. We are talking about telling the world about what a company is up to in an interesting and engaging way. That’s it. If anybody reads corporate news thinking that this will provide objective information about something, they are much mistaken: what they read will reflect the concerns of that company.

So does this mean that corporate news is, by definition, a minor branch of journalism? Not at all. Creating a narrative that generates value for a series of readers and that contributes to the image of the company is a perfectly respectable job, and one that can be done extremely well. This is a task that companies increasingly need to pay attention to, and that needs to distance itself as much as possible from the traditional press release. It is one of the growing trends within the corporate world. Companies can no longer limit themselves to producing information and then desperately looking for ways, typically via quotes or interviews in the mainstream media. Instead, they need to bring users to them.

It’s this simple: when talking about its products or services, a company needs to aspire to be the best interlocutor, the most authoritative. A credible company is not one that spends its time coming up with panegyric half truths that anybody with a grain of wit can see through, but instead is one that really fights to make sure that its products or services are seen in light of their attributes. If at the same time they are able to add value in other ways that are coherent with their values, so much the better.

Thus, a supermarket chain could publish a magazine in which it provides information about a range of things that interest its customers, and that also keeps its brand in the public eye, strengthening perceptions of it by providing added value. This is clearly one way to set it apart from the competition, and thus a likely choice for discerning consumers.

The path to becoming a leading brand in terms of a generic category of product is increasingly paved with pages of corporate news. If you think that the corporate news your company produces are the only news that people will use to inform themselves, you are mistaken: but you can, and should, try to transform yourself in the best source, and the most attractive, for people to find out about you and your products.

(En español, aquí)