By Leslie Campisi  Facebook is reaching peak popularity in Brazil. And yet the nation’s communications pros are already wondering: What’s next? On a recent trip to Sao Paulo, I was able to glean some first-hand insights into the changing ways that media professionals and journalists are communicating with their audiences. [caption id="attachment_2579" align="alignright" width="150"]Leslie Campisi Leslie Campisi[/caption] Along with Brazilian communications association, Aberje, I hosted a gathering of public relations professionals at the organization’s new headquarters to discuss how brands can approach the increasingly fragmented media and digital landscape. Pedro Cadina, owner of LATAM agency, VIANEWS, and Brazilian technology journalist, Cristina De Luca, joined the conversation, with journalist Renata Vianello acting as moderator. While we may be on opposite sides of the equator, the event highlighted the fact that Brazilian communicators struggle with many of the same concerns as their North American colleagues. While local nuances regarding adoption of certain social platforms over others exist, we’re all grappling with keeping track of the lightning-fast speed of breaking news all while delivering quality insights to our intended audiences. Cadina presented findings from a Digital Journalism research study conducted by VIANEWS among Brazilian journalists to determine how their ability to source reliable information has – or hasn’t – changed over time. Cadina’s research demonstrated that journalists increasingly rely on Facebook to track company news and are highly skeptical of CEO comment, preferring third-party analysts and academic sources to vouch for information. Those with marketing titles don’t fare better, as they are considered equally suspect when it comes to providing objective data. I approached the topic from a different view: rather than focus on the role journalists play in building corporate credibility through news stories, are there emerging opportunities for brands to engage directly with highly targeted communities online? As discussed in Hotwire’s 2014 Digital Trends Report, these “niche networks” offer brands, both B2B and B2C, the chance to engage with groups of individuals who are self-organized around single topics, from doctors, to law enforcement professionals, to IT workers. De Luca, current editor-at-large of Grupo Now Digital and technology correspondent for Radio CBN offered a journalist’s take on how digital communications have disrupted the way she sources and creates news stories. A self-proclaimed Twitter fanatic, De Luca lauded the new two-way relationship between writers and readers that today’s platforms make possible. De Luca charmed the audience with colorful, behind-the-scenes anecdotes on how input from readers, made possible through technology, has produced some of her favorite stories, as well as how journalists are navigating sometimes tricky online relationships with sources that blur the lines between on and off the record. One item all panelists agreed on was the increasing relevance of Instagram for brands. De Luca shared local newspaper Globo’s, success story, in turning its existing reputation for photographic excellence and using it to draw in new readers by opening its own Instagram account. I offered research supporting Instagram’s rise from a recent Forrester research report citing a 58x higher engagement rate between brands and users on Instagram versus Facebook. Cadina rounded out the conversation with recommendations on how to approach crisis communications in the age of digital media, with all panelists agreeing that setting a clear strategy for engagement prior to the crisis is the best defense. Leslie Campisi is managing director at Hotwire PR.