Brand Journalism: What is it and why is it great for brands?

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Over the last decade, marketers, advertisers, social media experts and website administrators have been required to be nimble, flexible and transformative communicators– especially since the media landscape has evolved into an entirely new and interconnected animal. The result?  The art of storytelling is alive and well, but the way we tell the stories is changing at every turn.

That’s why the skill-set of journalists and storytellers remains incredibly valuable, even as the media world has dramatically changed around them.  And with any evolution comes the birth of something new, interesting, and genetically superior (bear with me on this evolution metaphor).
Enter: brand journalism.  It has arrived, and is a valuable approach PR folks can use to their advantage.

Simply put, brand journalism is a strategy employed by companies to create interesting content that educates, motivates or sparks interest amongst a target audience by reporting relevant and useful information. Brand journalists can examine a brand, read between the lines, decipher a story, and create interesting content that connects the audience with the brand by giving readers new information.  It’s advantageous for brands to hire a journalist or media firm that specializes in storytelling because executing relevant information is hard-wired in their DNA strands (For proof of that, check out EZG’s white paper that uncovers how we build brands based on expertise).

When consumer brands execute a brand journalism strategy, the brand journalist is typically required to dig deep beneath the surface of the organization’s brand proposition and cultivate meaningful stories.  For example, a major cereal corporation has had success with their marketing and advertising efforts and the results have been plentiful, but now the organization wants to embark on a brand journalism campaign to add an extra layer of depth. To do this, the same cereal company publishes content to their website or to a 3rd party news outlet that explains to consumers: how to use the cereal in new recipes, why the product is superior to others (using proven examples and facts) and what the employees, founders, and researchers are actively doing to improve the product.  The difference between brand journalism and other forms of marketing is answering the, who, what, where, when and why on behalf of a brand.
So why might brands want to hire a storyteller to ignite a brand journalism effort? Here are a few answers to that question:

  1. Brand Journalists understand the story and why the brand is distinctive.
  2. Brand Journalists write in a way that adds depth to the brand.
  3. Brand Journalists think like an audience member, and are ready to communicate the importance of the message with sophistication and clarity.
  4. Brand Journalists stand at the intersection of where technology meets traditional news reporting.

Of course, as PR professionals we already have a genetic predisposition to support any effort that combines branding and news reporting, but ultimately we have seen proof of brand journalism’s popularity on a few news outlets. For example, news outlets like Forbes, Inc., and The WSJ have altered the way their information is displayed from reporter-centric to expert-centric.  This is a pretty significant indicator that brand journalism has a bright future ahead, as companies and thought leaders will benefit from a beautifully crafted message written by the storytellers who can make a difference.

After all, it’s survival of the noticed right?

Example of brand journalism: Forbes’ BrandVoice Channel:
Forbes_BrandVoice

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