For an excellent example of brand journalism, look no further than the annual "Edelman Trust Barometer," released just in time for the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
The 2014 report shows the largest ever gap between trust in business and government since the study began in 2001.
It will undoubtedly garner more media coverage than most PR initiatives. And despite all the other studies and surveys in the field, it will once again emerge as the go-to source of macro data for journalists and academics writing about reputational issues.
It's the perfect example of intelligent content creation:
- It's proprietary. Edelman has owned these industry and sector specific measures of trust since 2001. The earliest surveys interviewed a few hundred "informed publics" in a handful of big countries and were of dubious import. Later surveys have had 33,000 participants in 27 countries.
- It's newsworthy. The results always come out just before the Davos shindig so journalists have a natural news hook. A Fox News story, for example, led with this: "Ahead of the gathering of political and business leaders in the Swiss resort of Davos, the public relations firm Edelman found that only 44 percent of university-educated people participating in the survey trusted government, down 4 percentage points from the previous year."
- It's well produced. Far from the dry statistical reports lying around your officein unopened binders , the Edelman report is well-written and designed to be easily accessible through white papers, slide shows, and snappy infographics.
- It's at the intersection of the agency's competencies and its clients' needs. Trust is the holy grail of any PR effort. The Trust Barometer is the manifestation of Edelman's capabilities. Plus, all those media mentions tend to serve as a de facto endorsement of its unique know-how. It makes the head of every Edelman office an "expert" on the nature of trust in his or her country.
- It's relevant. Each year's survey explores issues of interest to senior clients in the public and private sector. The 2014 survey, for example, probed public attitudes toward regulation of business. "By a 3 to 1 margin, informed publics called for increased regulation of financial services, energy, and food and beverage industries," the report notes.
- It has legs. Edelman executives will give speeches based on the survey for the whole year. It harvested 16 "attributes" of trust from the survey results and has developed a system for applying them to individual clients in report cards and prescriptions for improvement.