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Let’s Braid! Journalism?

Citizen and traditional journalists are being woven around corporate strategy.

This post is all about braiding, so get your daughter, spouse, or best girlfriends over to read this, and get ready for some fun! Ok, you may not need to do that, but if they are interested in companies ‘weaving’ together citizen and traditional journalists into their PR plans, then you may want them to read this anyway.

Braiding, or braided journalism, is the concept of  citizen and traditional journalists’ roles becoming interlocked to fulfill some common need.  This is the definition Valeria Maltoni offers in her article describing the practice.  It generally involves embedding journalists in a company to write stories on its behalf. She believes that this can be very beneficial. By adding third party opinions to the company, the organization gains more credibility. It offers more consumer and non consumer opinion, it adds perspectives from researchers and experts, and it provides an entire story about a subject instead of just a quote to the media to just name a few advantages she lists.

What exactly does that mean? Shel Israel, who is commonly attributed for coining the term, gives examples in his post on the topic. One of them deals with Hoopgurlz, a blog about girls’ basketball started by a former NBA reporter. The blog gained popularity and received sponsorship from ESPN.  The typical citizen journalist role has turned into a professional one due to ESPN’s involvement.

One of the most impressive examples of this is The Power to do More site by Dell.  It’s composed of articles written by hired journalists on topics involving the company.  Shel recounts his experiences with Dell as one of their freelance reporters hired to write about its projects.  They were briefed by employees from Dell and were asked to pitch their ideas to Dell about potential article topics that the company was to approve. Assignments were given out to the journalists, and the reporters were asked to submit their stories to Dell’s PR department, which would also have the final say on the articles.

Shel  notes that he was skeptical of having the PR department edit his own words, but he was pleasantly surprised by Dell’s job. With both parties seemingly being satisfied by the results, braided journalism appears to be a potentially effective tool in public and media relations.

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