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Brand Journalism Invests in Audience


There’s a lot of chatter about “brand journalism” these days and how it is supposedly reshaping the face of public relations. For business leaders who have just gotten their heads wrapped around the concept of content marketing, it may sound like the proverbial Next Big Thing that could be gone tomorrow.


Christopher Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd

Don’t fret; brand journalism is merely the next evolutionary step in the content marketing movement. Leading companies are reaching out to customers directly by using the tools and information delivery systems of traditional media.


Basics of brand journalism

What is brand journalism? Simply put, it’s when a company invests in content and becomes a provider of news. It means responding to the informational desires of your audience rather than trying to promote the marketing message that the CEO and board of directors wants to transmit.


This isn’t to say to give up on traditional marketing; but leave that messaging to existing advertising and outreach models. Instead, find what your customers are talking about and produce content to engage them.


Christopher Penn at Shift Communications urges companies to see themselves as a publisher or media company. Consider trying out a Twitter chat, or create a Flipboard magazine. And consider hiring some journalists, he says, because they can maintain the pace of producing high-quality content all the time.


“Brands are also realizing that they must capture their audiences’ attention, that they must take responsibility for the creation and maintenance of those audiences. Relying on the traditional media to do so at a time when traditional media is declining is folly at best,” Penn writes.


The new PR

Lisa Arledge Powell, president of MediaSource, boldly says that “brand journalism is the new PR.”


“The key to brand journalism is producing content that your audience actually wants to see,” Powell said in an interview with Ragan Communications.


For example, Powell says her company works with a lot of hospitals and has used brand journalism to produce patient success articles or topical stories (“5 Ways to Avoid the Flu”) that are of great interest to people concerned with health issues.


(We’ve already been doing something similar for our healthcare clients.)


Shane Snow, founder of Contently, says it short and sweet: “Be less self-centered.” It’s not about you, it’s about your audience, he writes.


Partner with the media

Over at Forbes, Lewis DVorkin says brand journalism is good for the news business, if they’re smart enough to get onboard and offer a vehicle for companies to reach their audience. He points out that Forbes’ own brand journalism effort, AdVoice, has recently been redubbed BrandVoice. In some cases, content produced through this model has ranked high on the list of most popular stories on Forbes.com.


BrandVoice, DVorkin writes, offers “a way for brands to use the same publishing tools I do to create, curate and distribute their expert content in a credible news environment.”


Whether companies partner with existing media outlets or find their own platforms to distribute their content, brand journalism is clearly not just a flash in the pan.


Need help producing insightful content that keys in on your audience’s interests? The Coles team boasts a number of journalists and brand experts on staff.


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Categories: 2014 January Newsletter, Newsletters | Tags: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,