Media and vanilla
Related human rights
Right to information
Print the cases – media texts – that will be studied during the seminars.
The peer educator begins from providing the theory.
In the space of today’s digital media, the audience is provided with texts although very similar to, but not actually products of journalism. What makes them different is the motives of their creation.
The purpose of journalism is to INFORM the audience.
The purpose of public relations and press releases is to FORM the audience’s opinion.
The purpose of content marketing is to SELL a specific product or service to the target audience.
Why is this method called ‘Media and VANILLA’? VANILLA, used for the majority of baking goods, is one of the most universal types of spice, liked by the majority of people. VANILLA texts are usually created in a way to be similar to journalistic products (allegedly satisfying the need or create a sense of usefulness), but are also entertaining, helping the audience to relax. VANILLA texts are also popular in the commercialised online media – the client pays for their publishing, moreover, being an integral part of the media business, they generate clicks and lengthen the time spent reading, which is very important for advertising clients, deciding, if they should buy their advertising space in a certain type of the media.
Then the peer educator says:
I would like to show you several examples. Your task is to work in groups, reading two texts each and tell, which of them is a product of journalism, which – content marketing, and which – public relations, and also support your opinion.
Upon handing out the texts, give 20-30 minutes to read and discuss them in groups.
To sum up the seminar, the peer educator draws a two-column table on the board. One of them features the characteristics of a journalistic text and the other – that of a commercial text, or a text, which is supposed to shape an opinion.
Case No. 1. (from Lithuanian media) Awards to the Best in Kaunas Region
(Public relations text)
Similarities to a journalistic text: presented as any other journalistic text on 15min.lt daily online (the same font, quotes), the editorial office is indicated as the source
Similarities to a text for forming an opinion: a part of a wider campaign, because 15min.lt publishes more similar texts from different cities, the value of the news is low, Geronomika features texts, ordered by interested persons, photos feature the logo of the event and client, the client is also mentioned in the first sentence of the introduction of the article. The photos are among of the major indications – they are not documentary or journalistic. The text does not sell anything, but shapes the impression that the Ministry of Economy and EU structural funds focus a lot of attention on the promotion of entrepreneurship.
Case No. 2. (from Lithuanian media) Labour Party: Pre-Elections Politics of the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania – Attempts to Ban the Advertising of the Labour Party
(public relations product)
Similarities to a journalistic product: The title features a visible conflict, the text is brief and clear, features political news and is also published on the website of the BNS news agency.
Similarities to a text for forming an opinion: provides only one opinion, which sympathizes with the Labour Party, the text also features the adverts of the Labour Party, the name of the party is indicated in the most-visible places of the text, the text is published on the BNS press centre, which is a place for press releases, the author, who published the text, is indicated as well.
Case No. 3 (from Lithuanian media) Investments into Eco-Innovations Will Definitely Grow
(public relations product)
Similarities to a journalistic text: presented as any other journalistic text on 15min.lt daily online (the same font, quotes), neutral photo, which does not feature the logo of the client.
Similarities to a public relations text: the source indicates that this content is supported by the project partner; there are client logos at the bottom; the purpose of the text – to raise expectations and encourage the business to think about projects, related to eco-innovations – the areas, which would receive support from the funds and the Ministry of Economy in the future.
Case No. 4 (from Lithuanian media) Tips for Making an Excellent Recreation Area in the Yard
Similarities to a journalistic product: features the author and the type of the media; the text is unmarked, provided in the same font or style as any other independent journalistic text.
Similarities to content marketing: written from a single source, which is also the client, put in the ‘Projects’ column, the text discusses a specific product, creating a demand for the product by talking about its benefits.
Case No. 5. (from Lithuanian media) Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania: Anti-Refugee Adverts of the Labour Party Incites Hate
Similarities to a journalistic product: reveals/cites several sides of the conflict, the author is a 15min journalist and she does not take sides, the article is published in the ‘News’ column and discusses relevant news.
Similarities to a public relations text: the headline shows only one position, mentions the Radio and Television Commission of Lithuania.
Further suggestions, additional material
Text examples could include adverts from advert pages, presented in a way to make them visually similar to the news of the independent media.
Other ways of using the material by peer educators
You can also use other examples, but it’s important to remember that picking examples requires specific knowledge and skills – not all journalistic texts are ordered and not everything, which looks like a journalistic text actually is one. Otherwise, the discussion could turn into a wrong direction.