One of the hottest and most competitive areas of modern media is gossip and celebrity "news", often carefully-placed and cultivated by celebrities and their PR representatives themselves. But a recent celebrity birth announcement may upset the apple cart of the way these stories appear.
Kevin Jonas of Jonas Brothers fame completely bypassed all the weekly star gossip magazines and the nightly entertainment news show to handle the announcement of the birth of his and his wife Danielle's new baby. The first public birth notice came to light via a new and very unexpected avenue, when detergent brand Dreft used their Twitter, Facebook and social media feeds to handle the announcement. Jonas admitted that he has been exploring ways to use advertising and branding to handle news and press releases that used to be the exclusive province of print and broadcasting media.
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Excerpt: "Are brands the new celebrity weeklies? A tweet announcing the news and first pic of the birth of pop singer Kevin Jonas' daughter came not from People or OK! Magazine but a nonmedia source altogether: the detergent maker Dreft.
The Jonas Brothers singer and his wife Danielle teamed up with the Procter & Gamble brand to reveal exclusive content on their baby's arrival that was delivered via Dreft's Facebook and Twitter handles.
Increasingly, brands are using social media platforms and bypassing traditional media to connect with potential consumers. Twitter is being a willing enabler as it tries to sell more ads on the network.
But this stunt was particularly noteworthy because the brand was distributing editorial content—in this case, a celebrity's personal milestone—which used to be the sole domain of the media outlet. It speaks to the ongoing challenges facing celebrity weeklies, already facing soft newsstand sales and robust online competition.
'The idea that you would have a sponsored birth isn't new,' said Ted Murphy, CEO and founder of Izea, a company that connects influential bloggers and celebrities to brands. 'It's just typically done by media outlets. We're moving to something that's much more of a sponsored model for everything. I think you're going to see more of these symbiotic relationships where you have the brand looking to gain exposure to the demographic that follows and has an affinity for [the celebrity].'
It's easy to see why celebrities might bypass a media outlet for a brand; apart from the financial advantages, working with a brand could afford them more control over their image.
'It's probably something we're going to see more of as celebrities decide to take their news into their own hands and deciding how they want to break the news about themselves and their lives,' said Bonnie Fuller, editor of HollywoodLife.com. 'You don't have the market you did a couple years ago for celebrity baby pictures. Newsstand sales have dropped. Publications are tightening their budgets. And I think there are so many celebrities getting involved with social media and enjoying communicating with their own fans in their own way.' "