PRWeek recently asked my opinion on whether relationships with “influencers” have surpassed journalists from a branding perspective. You can read the whole piece here, if you’d like. This is the most important part of what I said:
At the end of the day, it depends on how you define media. Members of the press are responsible for mass communicating information the public deems useful or entertaining. Access to a large audience was historically the main differentiating factor between a journalist and a fool with a pen or a camera. When we refer to someone as an influencer, we either mean a celebrity or an individual – likely a Web sensation – who figured out how to reach a large audience from scratch.
Take nine-year-old Evan from EvanTubeHD, for instance. He reviews toys online, makes $1 million a year, and his videos have been viewed more than a billion times. He fits the influencer mold, but by definition, Evan could be considered a journalist as he has three times the amount of YouTube subscribers than The New York Times. Therefore, the gray area that exists between journalists and certain influencers has never been less defined.
And now I’ll ask you questions I don’t know how to answer:
What is an influencer? What is a journalist? Are journalists influencers? Can some influencers become journalists? What is a media outlet? How many readers does a blog need before it’s considered a media outlet? How many readers must a media outlet lose before it’s considered irrelevant? Should we take one opinion more seriously than another because it comes from a well-financed institution?