The Guardian Witness is a big step in citizen journalism. Free publicity awaits.
The Guardian Witness is a new platform from The Guardian (monthly online visitors: 77,931,138) opening journalism to the world. News, photographs, videos and comments are submitted by the public, or ‘contributors’ to a dozen ‘assignments’.
Assignments are given on the home page, inviting contributors to respond to the brief. For example:
Contributions include photographs, one liners and videos:
You can see here that Adam in the video above is running for Children with Cancer UK – a cause for which he has gained free publicity and raised its awareness by creating this 30 second video and submitting it to Guardian Witness.
Whilst you cannot simply publish anything i.e. it’s not a PR free-for-all, and it does seem submissions are reviewed before they go live, Guardian Witness is an opportunity to get some press coverage.
Some PR associates of mine, for instance, submitted photos of The Shard in London to the assignment Views Of Tall Buildings (they manage the reputation of The Shard and try to increase footfall to the area).
Indirect contributions may also be beneficial to your business. You do not have to say the name of your company to raise awareness of it. For instance, say you’re a pharmacist commenting on national health service reforms, and you put forth the argument that pharmacists have a greater role to play – this could still drive awareness to your business without saying the company name.
Guardian Witness is an opportunity for startups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, sole traders and joe the plumber to be smart and get some free press coverage. It may even be possible to media hack it and submit an assignment idea that gets chosen for you to answer yourself.
And it’s more than likely that popular assignments with good contributors will make it into the main Guardian site and paper.