Does the media always benefit from personal branding?
Leading figures’ “starification” is not a new phenomenon but it is definitely taking an increasingly important dimension in the media. Like footballers or even business leaders, there has always been a transfer window for journalists, TV hosts, columnists…. Depending on their popularity and images. But nowadays, as the phenomenon is growing, a radical change occurs: the emergence of celebrities whose reputation and image are greater than the media they are supposed to represent.
This is the result of converging facts. First of all, the appetite of public opinion for new celebrities, strong, different, disturbing or endearing. And its corollary, the acceleration of the reputation lifecycle. Then, the possibility for everyone to actually become a celebrity, thanks in the first place to social networks that enable anyone to create its own image and editorial line. Thus, in front of the television, we are more likely to change the channel because of the presenter than because of the show. Similarly, people votes more for a candidate than for a party ….
Does this advanced personal branding negatively impact on the content? Does this personal branding negatively impact on the emergence of media brands? Altogether, does the personality represent the media or does the media represent the personality it has convinced to come? Who is the beneficiary between the media brand and the personal brand?
Some recent examples raise questions about the right solution to bring to these issues.
It does not matter if the name « Petit Journal » stays on Canal +, it does not matter if his next TV show is broadcast on TF1 or TMC, because it is Yann Barthès people will follow him wherever he goes. The media themselves do not seem to be interested in the content of his next program. TF1 well understood that and that is why the channel relied on him.
In a high competitive environment, media groups manage their stars like brands. « Touche pas à mon poste », boosted by its star presenter (3.69 million followers on Twitter) has become a quasi-institution whose force exceeds the channel itself. A force that comes with a price, 250 millions EUR, that Vincent Bolloré had to spend to keep his star presenter. The presenter has thus become, over the years, a stronger brand than his broadcaster’s or even his channel’s.
In addition to France Inter, Léa Salamé will also embody in parallel the France 2 new political and cultural programs. People are getting tired of politics on television and France 2 knows they are not going to produce such a cultural event like “Apostrophe” used to be. So they rely on a personality who is seductive and trendy, an “attractive product”, before even determining the editorial line of the up-coming program.
This personalization of communication, however, has shown its limitations and can be dangerous since the content of a TV show, and more widely the program schedule, sometimes seem like an empty shell. The addition of a few strong personalities is not enough to embody a corporate project and, a fortiori, develop winning strategies for these media brands. Indeed, communication should never forget its vocation and objective that are to serve its strategy. To do so, it is necessary to bring it back to its right level. If everything is a matter of communication, its effectiveness is not the only concern of men and women, but rather this of the trademarks or media brands.