Journalists land at Cisco, other brands as ‘corporate reporters’

Digiday | PRNewser
Former Businesweek reporter Steve Wildstrom has worked as a “corporate reporter” for Nvidia and Cisco, Giselle Abramovich writes. Those are people who “who work inside the company and produce media like blog posts, videos, webinars and more,” she writes.

The twist is this path isn’t exactly like public relations. Brands are realizing, to a degree, that if they truly want to be publishers they can’t just have people churning out corporate boilerplate. They’re loosening the reins a bit in a bid to attract actual reporters.

Wildstrom says he was worried how his colleagues would react, but “Cisco’s editorial policy is to forbid its writers from covering the company or its competitors,” Abramovich notes. Wildstrom, who covers tech, tells her he steers clear of pieces he can’t report honestly: “That’s how I have chosen to handle it. If I can’t be honest, I won’t write it,” he says. “Whatever organization you work for, shy of BBC, NPR or PBS, it has commercial motives,” former Ad Age editor and current content strategist Jonah Bloom tells Abramovich. “Ultimately, the consumer is the arbiter of whether your info is credible, useful and has integrity.”

Lindsay Goldwert (with whom my wife used to work at Redbook) recently left her post as digital editor of the New York Daily News’ Lifestyle section to become a senior program executive at the PR firm Hotwire. She once zapped emails from PR folks without reading them, but “Now that I’m on the other side of things, I am receiving my comeuppance in a big way,” she writes.

The toughest part of the change is the fact that former colleagues now regard me with suspicion. I can see it in their eyes: ‘You’re going to pitch me, aren’t you?”

She quotes some journalists about what sort of pitches never work for them. “I really dislike the…‘hindsight is 20/20 flacks,’” Jo Piazza tells her, “the ones who approach me the day [after] a story, trying to push their very similar client on me. If I just wrote the story it’s unlikely I will write it again.”

Previously: Reporter who created ‘We Are Journalists’ Tumblr takes PR job | Why journalists make the best PR pros | Why journalists don’t always make the best PR pros

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • http://twitter.com/urnhart/ John Earnhardt

    This is a similar comment to one I left on Giselle’s post on Digiday. I run this team at Cisco and, to be fair, our reporters can mention Cisco in their
    stories if it helps best illustrate the story, but it is not the goal. We want our journalists to tell
    interesting stories about the impact of technology on people’s lives and
    on business…with topics such as mobility, cloud, security, video,
    collaboration, etc. Our two MAIN editorial guidelines are 1) don’t hurt
    Cisco; and 2) don’t help a competitor. (This is similar, I would think,
    to most publishers’ guidance to their newsrooms.) Thank again.