Everyone is a Journalist

by Guest Author Amy Kweskin  –  www.amykweskin.com

Teaching marketing and management to college students is like a scientist running a lab experiment while simultaneously living in the petri dish. For today’s class, Public Relations and Promotions, I invited a team of guest speakers from onpublico.com to introduce their recently launched collaborative news site. In search of Interns, Santiago Corredoira-Jack and Michael Hines engaged the students in an earnest discussion about news content creators and content aggregators.

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Santiago and Michael gracefully presented a lecture on PR that eventually migrated into advertising. They explained contextual, native and targeted advertising and the advantages of Internet users being active in determining the content they want to see as opposed to passive receivers of data. This is where I felt like I was in the petri dish in an experiment of news objectivity. Who is curating content for whom and where does journalism end and advertising begin?

Their site is built on the premise of “news for the people, by the people” and as they spoke I kept thinking, “is social media content so seamlessly intermingled that news, PR and advertising are equally credible sources of information? As users of social media we can literally break the news. Yet waiting on the sidelines, and creeping into the editorial content, are advertisers eager to deepen our brand experience.

Here is the quiz question I asked my students after Santiago and Michael departed:
“In the age of the Internet and social media, “everyone is a journalist”. How do social media platforms affect public opinion? Additionally, how could you, as a budding Public Relations professional, utilize onpublico to influence public opinion about your client?

I was intrigued by the quiz responses. While I thought that the students would only see the social side of media they understood the advantages of commingling of messages and images to sway public opinion. Nearly every student proposed strategies for encouraging user generated content as a tactic to engage targeted publics. I realized that the next generation of marketing professionals is fearless about reseeding the marketing mix.

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