Citizen Journalism Pros and Cons

Imagine walking down the street of your own city and seeing something crazy happen, a car crash, a protest, or even an escaped zoo animal cruising down the sidewalk. You have to share this with the world!  You pull out your phone and take a video. Later, you post it online for millions to see. You’ve just become a citizen journalist! Citizen journalism is when news stories are reported, recorded, or written and published by a non-professional. Many journalists don’t like this term because they do not believe journalism can just be reported by anyone but is a professional discipline with certain standards. However, with so much access to public media and social networks it’s becoming easier and more popular to be a citizen journalist. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there is an entire newspaper in South Korea that operates off of over 2,000 citizens sending in their own citizen journalism pieces.

Citizen journalism can be a great tool and an asset to the world of sending and receiving information. By definition, anyone can be a citizen journalist, there is no special training or equipment required. This gives everyone an opportunity to give voice to news or topics of their choice. Additionally, people can report about things that are smaller scale or more specialized. Citizen journalism allows citizen reporters to get very close to topics in their local community or allows them to report to a smaller niche audience instead of news that is geared for a wider audience. Another strong advantage of citizen journalism is that it can take viewers into the action that reporters may not always get to experience. If an ordinary person is making a broadcast there aren’t as many rules, expectations, or regulations as to what they can do or where they can go. This allows citizen reporters to be fully immersed in the action of a story if they choose. For example, if there is a march or protest, a citizen journalist could fully partake in the action while filming and talking to other participants as he or she goes.

Since there are no boundaries or rules in place when it comes to citizen journalism, the report can get out of control, violate laws, or be untruthful. Citizen journalists don’t have television stations or new sites to sensor their content. There could be sensitive or inappropriate material in any report. Additionally, the journalist can knowingly or unknowingly break privacy laws or copyright laws. Arguably, the biggest concern is that it’s likely that no one fact checks the reports. People can publish anything they wish and say it is reliable news. There is also a good chance that the journalist may claim to be reporting facts but is actually reporting with bias or an agenda on a topic. An example of this would be if a citizen journalist is reporting on a crime in his or her town. The journalist may have a relationship to victims and strongly skew the facts to point fingers at a particular suspect if the reporter thinks the suspect committed the crime, even if he or she didn’t.

Citizen journalism is tricky because many of the qualities that make it such a helpful tool also make it risky. Freedom of journalism is a great thing, but it can go poorly very quickly. The same goes for journalists who are unaffiliated with certain networks, on one hand they could be seen as an objective source, but on the other you may never know if what they say is bias. The key is balance. Citizen journalism offers a unique perspective on many topics. However, while watching, viewers must realize that it is a citizen reporting and not a professional, therefore not every bit of information may be true or objective. When creating citizen journalism, it is important to keep audience in mind and ensure the story is factual and fair.

How Public Relations Differs from Marketing and why it is so Important

In the modern world, connecting products, people and organizations to consumers and stakeholders is vital to the success of an organization. The two main ways organizations do this are marketing and Public Relations. While both serve the overall purpose of promotion, Marketing and public relations are very different and each bring unique strategies to an organization. The first major difference is the goal of each sector. Marketing serves to drive revenue. It focuses on the consumer and is driven by the desire for sales. Public relations focuses on generating positive media coverage and communication with stakeholders. A strong relationship with the public, the media, and stakeholders sells the company brand as a whole. To fully understand the differences between marketing and public relations it is important to take a close look at the function, tactics, and outcome of each.

Marketing focuses its attention on direct, promotional services and advertising. The goal of these tactics is to drive sales. Marketers look to reach both current and target customers. This can involve extensive research on consumer behavior, market trends, and advertisement costs. A benefit of marketing is that the company controls the message that is given to consumers. They can spin any story or campaign to their sole message and brand. The drawback of this is that to the consumer, a message coming directly from a company is less trustworthy. A company wants people to think they are great and recognize all the great things they do, so they will highlight that part in marketing, and not always paint a complete picture of the product.

Public relations isn’t consumer driven, but rather reputation driven. It also involves a lot more communication with stakeholders. Instead of solely focusing on customers, PR maintains strong relationships with anyone with interest in the brand or organization. For PR, the company is the product, and their job is to “sell” it through positive communication with media, community, and stakeholders. Unlike marketing, public relations does not have full creative control over publicity. While marketing often uses advertisements created by the company, public relations focuses on articles written by other media outlets or coverage from influencers. Public relations specialists do not have full control over what is written about the organization, but they can present facts and provide media in a way that will spin a story the way they want it.  There is just not one hundred percent guarantee it will turn out the way the specialist planned.

Another difference is that public relations usually plans long-term strategies while marketing seeks to drive instant, tangible sales. A person on the marketing team may pay for an advertisement in a magazine, consumers will see the ad and sales may go up as a result. Public relations may host a charity event to represent values of the company. While the even may not result in a big spike of sales, it improves the company’s reputation and will help sales over time if people have a good image of the organization.

To manage PR properly an organization must have a person or team of people who understand the public relations industry. PR professionals should have excellent relationship building skills. Building trusting relationships with others in the organization, stakeholders, and media personnel is key. Additionally, the company must ensure its PR team can communicate and execute the company’s values, goals, and mission clearly. Public relations is important because it invests in the company’s trust with consumers. A marketing campaign can be the best on the world, but if consumers have a bad image of the brand, they will never buy the product. Public relations is key when an organization’s reputation comes into question. Companies inevitably undergo scandals or unforeseen poor choices. With a strong public relations team, organizations can properly handle conflict and resolve issues as efficiently as possible while recovering their original reputation. Even if there is no conflict, PR is essential to manage relationship, continue to generate positive press, and communicate with its publics.

Valentí Sanjuan and Using Social Media to To Turn Passion into a Career

If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. I’ve heard this phrase many times. It inspires me to find something that I truly love doing and make a career out of it. While I still struggle in finding my one thing that I love to do, many people have already found their passion and have made successful careers out of it. Let’s be real though, not all passions as a full-time job produce a livable wage. However, tools like social media and digital production can be used to share a passion or specialty with the public and create a following. A large social media following can create opportunities to turn one’s passion into a lucrative business. This past Thursday I had the pleasure of listening to Valentí Sanjuan speak, who has turned his passion into a career using the power of social media and video.

Ten years ago, during the economic crash, Valentí Sanjuan lost his job, girlfriend, house and mother all in a span of eight months. After falling into a time of deep sadness and anxiety, Sanjuan found joy in his daily runs. This joy built up so strong that Sanjuan decided he wanted to take his fitness to the next level and train for an Ironman Triathlon. An Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run, raced in that order and is considered to be one of the most difficult and physically demanding races sporting events in the world. This was clearly no ordinary task so Sanjuan decided that he wanted to share his experience of running and Ironman with the world. As social media was just picking up speed Sanjuan learned how to use several popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a few years later, Instagram to tell his story and explain his emotions while competing in Ironman Triathlons.

As Valentí Sanjuan continued to post videos about his races on Instagram, @sanjuanvalenti, and YouTube, more and more people became interested in him. His story and his actions inspired the public. They followed him because they could relate to something in him. Of course, not everyone is going out and doing Ironman Triathlons after watching his videos, but there is a more general message in the videos that make people question, “what am I doing?” This Question of “what am I doing?” is something that Sanjuan discussed with us when I listened to his speak. When audiences see that Sanjuan is training hard and living his dream it encourages them to ask themselves, what their own excuse is to not find happiness and do what they love. During the talk Sanjuan told us, “do what you want, travel what you want, study what you want.” This message is what helps him connect with his audience. People use his extreme case of success to relate it to their own small, daily hardships and find the motivation to keep going and maybe even start something new.

Since his first video, Sanjuan’s impressive physical accomplishments have grown along with his following. He has since completed ten Ironman Triathlons in ten days, several Ultraman Races, and he bike, ran, and swam his way back to Barcelona after completing one of the most difficult bike races in the world in Africa. He explained that great content is key in building a following and a brand. Sanjuan said that it is vital to have amazing content so that you can connect with your audience. When you connect with your audience and gain a following, brands will want to sponsor you and “pay for the whole thing.” By looking at Sanjuan’s Instagram, it is easy to see how he connects with his audience. Starting at the top, a bio is important to let your audience know what you do and give a first impression of your brand. Sanjuan’s bio reads, “As a child I wanted to be a superhero, but something went wrong. Since then I travel the world via Ironmans, Ultramans and crazy races in general.” This bio begins with a quirky statement that invites the audience to recognize the fun and adventurous spirit in Valentí Sanjuan. Additional he is already relating to his viewers, after all, who didn’t want to be a superhero when they were little? He then gives a brief, one sentence summery about what he doe and what can be expected from his account. The pictures and videos following the bio don’t disappoint. Sanjuan posts clear, high quality pictures of him in action, him with his bike, him with friends at races, and even some of the physical results and strains on his body after a race. The beautiful content gives off an upbeat and positive vibe. Sanjuan is happy in all of his pictures. He somehow even seems to radiate positivity in the videos when he is shown struggling through a race. On top of the fantastic content that connects with audiences, Sanjuan also utilizes technical elements of Instagram. He has several Instagram story highlights, IGTV, and a link to his YouTube in his bio.

While Valentí Sanjuan is a great example of how social media can turn one’s passion into a fulltime job, he is not the only one. Another one of my personal favorite examples is the Blonde Abroad. The Blonde Abroad, aka Kiki, is a California woman that quit her job to as she writes on her blog, “embrace on a summer of soul searching.” Through her summer travels she realized her passion for solo, female world travel and began a blog for women who want to travel the world alone or with a group. Kiki used content to connect with her audience and inspire people to travel. She highlights her favorite spots on her Instagram @theblondeabroad and on her blog. While she uses incredible imagery in her content, it is the connection she builds with her audience that boosts her brand and builds her following.

Both Valentí Sanjuan and the Blonde Abroad turned their passions into careers by inspiring their audience through social media. Offering a unique and emotional perspective on things that not everyone can experience first-hand peaks peoples’ interest. This combined with the inspiration that follows asking oneself, “why not me?” creates a connection with the audience that continues to grow as more content is created. While it is important for pictures to be pretty, it is the emotional connection that makes audiences follow creators.