A blog by Campbell Consulting Group, based in Bend, Oregon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

“Brand Journalism” – A Misleading Name for a Great Trend

“Brand journalism.” Doesn’t this term sound like doublespeak? And worse still, combining these terms dilutes the concept of “journalism.” We all know journalism is the profession of writing for news sources, but good journalism strives to not only report the facts correctly, but also to investigate, give context and strive for an unbiased view of both sides of an issue.

Call me old fashioned, but in spite of Fox News, I still believe in the importance of the free press. Just take a look at the journalists under attack every year in other countries to remember why journalism is an important aspect of a democratic society and needs to hold itself to the highest standards.

In spite of all that—I love everything behind the concept of “brand journalism”—it just needs to be called something else. How about this? Simply “good PR.”

A recent article on Ragan.com did an excellent job exploring this trend—basically, the trend of hiring writers with a journalism background (compared to writers with only a marketing background) to write well-written copy, press releases, Web content, blogs, how-to articles, etc.

And this is really nothing new—for years journalists have known that the real money is in public relations; former journalists have been hired by companies for their writing skills; and freelance writers, such as myself, have pieced together a living through public relations gigs and writing journalism articles.

So why all the chatter now about “brand journalism?” I think it’s because, with SEO an important aspect of Web marketing, and consumers looking to the Web to instantly find information about topics or answer questions, quality writing has become paramount.

Is this writing actually journalism? The writers may be using the skills they use working on an exposé for a newspaper or magazine, but writing for a company—even an “article” that will run in a newspaper or magazine—is not journalism. It’s just writing.

And that really does make all the difference.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Merrell Oyster Adventure Races Teams with Campbell Consulting

From the Beard and Moustache National Championship to Bend WinterFest, if there’s a fun, zany event being held in Bend, Campbell Consulting Group wants to be ahead of the race—that’s why Campbell is pleased to announce it will be the public relations agency for the Merrell Oyster Adventures Races, to be held in Bend, Portland and Seattle this summer.

The Merrell Oyster Racing Series is introducing the Oyster Off Road Adventure Race to Bend on June 25. This one-of-a-kind, mountain town race has the uncanny ability to combine pure athleticism with thought-provoking strategy, requiring each team of 2-4 to run, bike, paddle, climb and perform other crazy athletic stunts while answering clues and completing tasks.

The Off Road is similar to its sister race, the Oyster Urban Adventure, an exceptional, high-caliber urban adventure race produced by Team Player Productions, currently held in ten markets across the country and on its fourth successful year in Portland and its fifth year in Seattle. Year after year, the race has remained unparalleled in its athleticism as well as its innovative courses that continue to challenge its growing following of racers.

Campbell will be promoting all three of these adventure races. Already, we've posted information to calendars and sent out press releases. But with races as unusual as these, there are all sorts of opportunities for fun PR campaigns to get the word out about Oyster. Stay tuned to the Campbell blog and Facebook Page for updates!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cycle Pub to Self-Serve Taps: Walking the Line Between Awesome and Gimmicky

More than any other alcoholic beverage – perhaps more than any beverage, in general – beer seems to inspire people to have fun. Not just the kind of fun where you fall off the back of your pick up truck laughing before the game. I’m talking about quirky, inspired ideas from the people who make the beer. For instance, take a recent stroke of Easter inspiration at the 21st Amendment Brewery Pub: they hid cans of beer around the bar and patrons got to have their own adult Easter egg-style hunt. Or a limited edition winter brew created by Deschutes Brewery—they named it Giraffe on Ice Skates.

One contraption that gained some press when it was first introduced in Bend was the Cycle Pub, sponsored by the Old Mill District. The cycle pub seats 16 people at a “bar” and they pedal around Bend while drinking beer.

Perhaps beer inspires fun ideas because of the kind of people drawn to creating craft beer in the first place. Plus, the people who write and blog about beer love their job – they’re quick to report on any new innovation or development. From a PR point of view, that means quirky ideas are sure to bring in some good press.

But when does an idea cross the line into the realm of a gimmick? Pretty simple: when customers find it annoying rather than amusing. Recently I was chatting with Chris Shott, writer at the Washington City Paper in D.C. and he brought up self-serve taps. Three bars around D.C. installed taps at each booth so customers could pour their own beer. My initial thought was, “that sounds like fun.”

But Shott had a much different experience. He wrote, “In the end, despite all this fuzzy math, Redline still charged me the original 55-cent rate. Crunching the numbers, it now appears that sitting on my ass and pouring my own suds cost me about $6.60 per glass. That’s 60 cents extra! One whole ounce of suds and change.”

Perhaps since the time Shott wrote about self-serve taps in December, the D.C. pubs have worked out the kinks and pricing so patrons can enjoy their self-serve beer. Whatever innovative idea a pub – or any business – embraces to encourage patrons to have fun with their product, it has to be user-friendly; and it should fit into the company’s overall vision and brand.

So what about those other beer ideas—21st Amendment’s Easter Beer Hunt, or the Cycle Pub? Well, I doubt we’ll see many Cycle Pubs crawling slowly through Portland any time soon, but what I love about this bar-cum-bike is it’s so purely “Oregon.” What could be more Oregon than drinking and cycling at the same time?

Just make sure I’m not the one steering the dang thing.