Brand journalism stands for combining the tenets of traditional journalism with “brand storytelling” (using the techniques of marketing and public relations).
It’s not meant to be truly impartial as journalism is, but rather a genuine and engaging way to talk to customers and present your brand. Because businesses are increasingly social, it’s a way to make communications interesting and set your business apart from old-fashioned “push” marketing techniques with a perception of bias.
Many businesses believe that to brand smart means to practice brand journalism. The content is factual and authentic, like a journalistic article, aimed at relevance and transparency, presenting content to customers, fans, and influencers with facts, not fluff.
To be brand smart means you must begin to think like publishers think, and create stories that are interesting, and factual. Wide and real-time distribution is important, and so are strategies for repurposing content so that the bigger marketing engine within your company can get the most out of it.
Marketing strategist David Meerman Scott (author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR) has said in interviews that in the new world order, brand journalism is winning over direct marketing, traditional advertising, and PR attention-getting techniques. He says the key is approaching your content as publishing—journalist-quality writing—that others within the organization can use as raw material for their own content.
Brand journalism is not about obfuscation, trickery, and “marketspeak.” It’s about balance and facts. The purpose of brand journalism isn’t to showboat, it’s to be compelling with content that demonstrates why your company is in business. Brand journalists tell stories to educate, not market. Then your audience shares them and becomes smarter and more engaged with your mission.
There are huge benefits in providing trusted content. When you offer value selflessly, when you don’t make content about your brand all the time, then you gain the benefits of relevancy and credibility. It’s not altruistic; it’s authentic—and it can be a competitive advantage.
Measuring the return on investment of this journalistic content can be by page views, but also by how much your content gets shared, by whom, and also watching the conversations it sparks. Treat your audience like adults with great, accurate narratives, then enjoy the “seminar” of commentary that evolves from your content.