What happens in the long term? What happens when every organisation, not just every agency, is producing meaningful content? It might be useful content, entertaining content or – occasionally – both. What happens then?
We had this in mind when we asked one of our most important questions in our exclusive 2016 study of PR and content marketing, available to download for free.
The reason I phrase the opening question like this is because fewer PRs we surveyed told us they ‘accept brand journalists… on a par with traditional journalists’. In the 2015 survey, 17 per cent of respondents told us ‘They are now’ accepted as equals, whereas this year the corresponding number had fallen to 12 per cent.
That hurts if you’re in our shoes, right? But flipping to the other side of the spectrum, how many of our 266 respondents told us ‘Never’ would the two groups be treated the same? As you can see, the number has fallen from a worrying 42 per cent in 2015 to 27.4 per cent in 2016.
In our full report, we redo the equation from last year. Back then, by bracketing the first three groups – those answering ‘They are now’, ‘Within the next year’ and ‘1-3 years time’ – and comparing them with those who said ‘Over 3 years’ and ‘Never’, we saw the naysayers edge it, 52% v 47% (one per cent didn’t know).
This year, the first grouping – let’s call them the near-termers – total 59.9 per cent. So while fewer told us so-called brand journalists are on a par with traditional journalists right now, more believe they are likely to be soon. The ratio has shifted from roughly 50:50 to 60:40.
Do they mean it? It’s hard to tell. By rejecting ‘They are now’ but being more optimistic about the long term, are these respondents ‘kicking the can down the road’ (as people like to say in US politics)?
What is clear, however, is that if this is a trend, there are some in PR who will be changing their position in coming years.
What will it take for PRs to accept those creating content for brands rather than media properties? Our bet is that better quality output will convince PRs these people are worth engaging with.
The irony is that one way to create that higher quality content is to work with PRs – getting information, access to sources, events and help with ideas. It’s a bit chicken and egg, really. The question now is, which comes next?
Download the full PDF report here [link no longer available]. Look out for more analysis of our findings over the coming weeks.
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