Journalists in Asia-Pacific are increasingly turning to digital methods to source stories and embracing branded content. Marketers who take advantage of these trends and create objective, relevant, and well-crafted content will get their brands' stories heard.
The recently leaked and much talked about New York Times Innovation report has once again sparked conversation around the digitization of traditional newsrooms. While the report did not necessarily cast the Times' newsroom in the most favorable light, it nonetheless showed the extent to which digital is impacting - and will continue to impact - journalists and publishers.
Here in Asia, we are seeing the influence of digital not only in terms of digital publishing strategies, but also in terms of how journalists source, research, and verify their stories. A study passed my desk recently, which surveyed 339 journalists across Asia-Pacific, with the aim of building a clearer picture of how online and social media is being integrated into journalists' professional lives.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that the study I refer to was authored by one of the agencies within the holding group that I supervise from a digital perspective. Despite that apparent conflict of interest, I hope readers will consider the survey on its merits.)
The results from the survey were clear. While traditional PR methods such as the trusted press release are still effective, having a complementary digital media strategy is now essential.
For example, of those journalists surveyed, 36 percent said they turn to online channels first when looking to source or verify stories. In addition, 43 percent said they most commonly source and verify their news stories from corporate websites. Clearly, if brands want their stories to be found, they need to be publishing them online.
Another finding from the survey, and perhaps the most surprising discovery, was that Asia-Pacific journalists are open to publishing brand-owned content. A massive 77 percent said their news organizations often or always publish content produced by brands.
Again, there is a clear lesson here for brands. Good content travels well, regardless of the source. Journalists are less in number than they ever were and, given the change in publishing schedules brought in by online publishing, they are increasingly time poor. Assistance in the form of objective, relevant, and well-crafted content is welcomed.
What the survey shows most of all is that brands need to adapt to get in line with the changing habits of journalists. This means creating, publishing, and distributing original and engaging content across their owned digital properties.
Journalists, like all of us, are having to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources. Brands are now in a unique position to capitalize on this fact by adopting an editorially led content publishing strategy and moving from simply being part of the news story to actually creating the story themselves.
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With an honors degree in economics, and vast commercial and technical expertise in the digital communications industry, Jon provides business, communications and marketing acumen as well as detailed digital technical knowledge to the agencies in the Constituency Management Group (CMG) of IPG across Asia Pacific. Based in Hong Kong, he established the firm's Centre of Digital Excellence in 2012 and also has executive responsibility for the network of in-house digital content studios established across the Asia Pacific region for the benefit of all of CMG's below-the-line agencies including Devries, Futurebrand, Golin Harris, Jack Morton, Octagon and Weber Shandwick.
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Hong Kong, April 2015
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