TikTok Turns to Owned ...


Going back to the Trump administration, TikTok has been in the government’s cross hairs for data privacy issues. The government views user data saved outside the U.S. as a security risk.

Rather than distribute a news release or talk to journalists on recent actions to address the issue, TikTok has controlled the narrative by issuing their POV in a blog post.

Tik Tok News Excerpt

Initially, the strategy worked with TikTok PR and Oracle PR likely pointing journalists to the post which in turn generated headlines and neutral to positive stories like the MarketWatch reporting, “TikTok Moves User Data to Oracle Servers.” (June 17, 2022)

But a BuzzFeed story ambushed TikTok the same day with the damning headline, “Leaked Audio From 80 Internal TikTok Meetings Shows That U.S. User Data Has Been Repeatedly Accessed from China.” To maximize the drama, BuzzFeed created artwork for what it is calling “The TikTok Tapes.”

I don’t know if TikTok got unlucky on timing or envisioned the blog post diffusing the BuzzFeed reporting. Regardless, I continue to believe building equity in a corporate blog offers an asset for PR to take their company’s POV directly to the target audience. And if the company enjoys a high public profile — right, like a TikTok — or the issue is timely, the media will write, sometimes depending on the blog post as the single source.

The Corporate Blog as a Communications Building Block

For the longest time companies perceived corporate blogging as a platform for fluff. Introducing a vegan option in the company cafeteria? Throw it up on the blog. The finance department paints a house for Habitat for Humanity? Write it up for the blog.

That changed in 2010 when Google announced on its corporate blog the decision to exit from the China market. Here was Google, one of the most influential companies in the tech sector, communicating a piece of news that would forever change its trajectory, and they chose a blog post. Not at a press event. Not in a news release. The action gave street cred to corporate blogging.

Fast forward to today, progressive PR teams — consultancy as well as in-house — are investing in owned media in a way that it becomes intertwined with traditional PR tactics, often as a platform for thought leadership. That’s how you gain synergy and boost earned media.

Stepping back for a moment, consider what prompts a journalist to perceive a source as valuable. The source delivers a fresh point of view, often running counter to the conventional way of thinking. The source pushes the discourse into unexpected terrain. The source helps the journalist to view the issue in a different light.

The same high bar applies to owned media and publishing thought leadership posts. Unfortunately, many — especially those from B2B tech companies — treat corporate blogs like a sales channel with self- promotion trumping critical thinking. These same companies end up baffled that no one, much less journalists, pay attention to their content.

And make no mistake journalists do pay attention to corporate blogs. Plug the phrase [said in a blog post] into the Google news engine and proof of concept comes to the surface.

BTW, a few years ago I had a first-hand experience with this dynamic. An article in The Street (May 26, 2018) on Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tweets damaging the company’s reputation on Wall Street include commentary from me.

Lifted from a blog post.


  • Daily PR Brief - Tue 06/28/22 - ITK Blog

    […] TikTok Turns to Owned Media to Control the Narrative (Ishmael’s Corner – The Hoffman Ag… […]

  • Kevin Petschow

    “PR teams are investing in owned media in a way that it becomes intertwined with traditional PR tactics, often as a platform for thought leadership. That’s how you gain synergy and boost earned media.” — Lou Hoffman. #word 👌

    Well written. Thanks for sharing, Lou. #blogging #publicrelations #earnedmedia


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