How brand journalism improves your content strategy

Michael Marchese
November 23, 2015
long-form content

How brand journalism improves your content strategy

Michael Marchese
November 23, 2015

As the marketing world continues to become increasingly digital and dynamic, traditional marketing tactics have given way to a new strategy, one that embodies a multiplatform and multidimensional approach to marketing. This concept, known as brand journalism, has taken the marketing world by storm.
Gone are the days of heavily saturated, simple slogans across single platforms. Brand journalism instead utilizes a variety of content across different platforms for a more personalized and engaged marketing experience, with strong content at the core of the entire strategy. For this reason, corporations and agencies alike have turned to brand journalism as their marketing solution.
What is brand journalism?
Brand journalism, in essence, explains the heart of the brand to consumers. The distinctive character of the brand becomes evident in every piece of content, across topics and platforms. Though this approach may seem more unstructured than traditional marketing, according to the University of Alaska Anchorage, certain values are necessary when implementing brand journalism in a content strategy. These include:

  • Focusing on good storytelling
  • Understanding news values
  • Remaining true to transparency
  • Keeping content factual and well-investigated
  • Using a variety of multimedia to tell stories
  • Combining journalism with traditional strategic PR and marketing communications

Brand journalism, as result, is an integrated communications strategy. Brands have the means to tell stories about their successes, struggles and culture to their customers in a targeted yet relatable fashion. In order to achieve this relatability, the content must be superior and balanced. The content should be enlightened, engaging and innovative, creating a dialogue between the brand and consumer.
How brand journalism can help build a client’s following
The conventional mass marketing strategy of pushing the message at consumers is no longer effective. Instead, brand journalism focuses on creating relationships with consumers. These relationships increase brand engagement, establish trust and signify the brand as a dependable authority in the industry. In a culture that depends on social sharing and immediacy, continued positive interactions with the consumer base can only lend itself to success.
Quality content rests at the core of this success in brand journalism, according to Curatti. Text should be flawless and other content, such as video/imagery, should be “professional and neat.” Inadequate or incorrect content reflects poorly on the brand and can negatively impact these highly sought-after relationships with the consumer base.
Brand journalism thus achieves everything traditional marketing cannot. Brand journalism opens the door to an interactive audience, establishes credibility within the industry, and creates unprecedented transparency with the consumer base. Brand journalism offers the brand a chance to grow in correlation to the customer.
Should brand journalism always be used?
The incorporation of brand journalism in a content strategy can be detrimental if implemented incorrectly. Brands should never, unintentionally or intentionally, deceive the consumer. Proper research and homework should be done in every piece of content. Brands should also refrain from turning to new platforms for the sake of just being present. Poorly produced content can have a greater negative impact than no content at all. The intimate understanding of an audience is a powerful tool, and brands should be wary to negatively affect this relationship by any means.
The integration of marketing and journalism has proven to be a success. Brand journalism can take many forms, however, and brands should utilize the approach that most directly applies to the brand’s strategy. According to Hubspot there are four opportunities within brand journalism:

  • Brand awareness: Business publish so audiences can learn about them. Content is not focused on direct selling.
  • Industry news: Content focuses directly on the company and its industry, supplementing what has been published on mainstream media.
  • Create and sponsor: This content positions a business as a thought leader, it has an independent site to showcase content (Hubspot cites Adobe’s as an example).
  • Lead generation: Content is used specifically to generate leads and make conversions, high focus on brand awareness.

Brand journalism is a trend that has been steadily gaining traction and, according to Curatti, experts anticipate this growth will continue and take “new twists” as more businesses integrate the concept into their content strategies. Most importantly, this content approach has the high potential to develop new relationships and strengthen existing ones, further expanding audiences.
Understandably, many businesses do not have the resources to develop the quality of content needed to be successful in the realm of brand journalism. As a solution, many are turning to expert third parties to provide branded journalism and other varieties of content to fill their branding needs.
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