My last column on brand journalism sparked some great discussion and more questions from my network on exactly how businesses can implement a brand journalism strategy.
Just to recap: Brand journalism is a useful way for brands, big and small, to use the approach of professional journalists to create, curate and share expert content in the form of blogs, articles and video. Businesses are essentially becoming their own media houses too, whether hiring internally or contracting out to people with journalism backgrounds.
Home Depot, Cisco and Boeing are just some of the more commonly talked about larger brand journalism examples, producing relevant media for their audiences in the forms of how-to content, demonstration videos as well as pages upon pages of industry-relevant information. You’ll never see any of the content pieces screaming ‘buy now.’ Rather – the aim is to educate, inform and even entertain its consumers.
RedBull, for example, constantly strives to ‘wow’ its fans through its brand journalism efforts.
The Austrian energy drink company has essentially created its own media network that pushes its content strategy via Red Bull Media House. Dubbing it as “Fascinating people, inspiring stories,” it’s content marketing library boasts thousands of professional videos on it’s YouTube channel. With 1.6-million subscribers and 550-million video views – its strategy is something to take a second look at.
RedBull’s content focuses on sports and events and, of course, athletes. It’s exciting and captivating content distributed via a variety of digital platforms including web video and social media. But YouTube is where it re ally rules. In fact, RedBull is one of the top five YouTube sports content producers in the world, and has launched more than a dozen web TV shows featuring its sponsored athletes.
The brand placement itself is minimal, if non existent, as the emphasis is instead on simulating and exciting content. RedBull’s magic brand journalism formula: create content people want to watch and share, while ensuring whatever it is in alignment with their image and message.
The idea central to brand journalism is that a brand needs to offer value in order to get something valuable back. Consumers are smarter than ever before and demand more respect. If a company can tell those stories in an authentic and non-intrusive way, it’ll start building a loyal community that wants to live, breathe and share this brand.
Businesses, marketers and advertisers can all learn a thing or two from Red Bull’s brand journalism approach. Next time you’re thinking about launching a ‘push’ commercial, bend your mind a bit. Instead, become the show.
My career as a journalist spanned nearly a decade. When I left to launch a web-video startup, BizBOXTV, I quickly discovered storytelling was part of my DNA, evident in the process and style of my new media company and how it approached its first productions.
It wasn’t about story-boarding or scripting, it was about asking questions, getting answers, and weaving content together to produce an interesting and useful story. The benefits of combining the approaches of traditional journalism and brand storytelling seemed obvious.
Businesses are using social media, web video, and digital publishing to speak directly to consumers. It’s a way for brands, big and small, to use the approach of professional journalists to create, curate and share expert content in the form of blogs, articles and video. Brand journalism is obviously not as impartial as journalism, but it’s a way for a brand to engage an audience with relevant and interesting material. The content must be factual, and keep “relevance to the viewer” top of mind.
Marketing strategist David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, says “brand journalism is winning over direct marketing and PR attention-getting techniques.
“I’m convinced that those with the traditional skills of marketing, public relations, and copywriting are not the right people to create brand journalism content. Instead you need the skills of a journalist.”
Brand journalism is about facts and balance. It’s about telling an engaging story, and the goal is to educate rather than blatantly market. This way, readers or viewers are informed, and they become engaged with your business and it’s mission.
Home Depot is one major brand that has been creating expert content and useful do-it-yourself advice for a while, and it’s reaping the benefits. The content, whether it’s in the form of blog posts or web video, generally doesn’t try to sell anything directly. Instead, it keeps the focus on education.
Cisco is another example. On its blog, most of the articles and videos don’t mention the company at all. Its plan is to create a conversation and to position itself as a leader in the industry it represents. The company’s digital lead, Karen Snell, has said: “The goal was to generate engaging content to spark a conversation … If we can make people understand what Cisco is doing, then we’ve been successful.”
Boeing is often mentioned as a successful adopter of brand journalism. “When brand journalists think of what’s interesting to their audiences and create engaging content, they generate stories that can really take off,” writes communications director Todd Blecher. “This story is about testing the brakes on our new 747. It involves speeding an airplane down a runway, hitting the brakes just before takeoff. It ends with the brakes on fire, which is eye catching, to say the least.
“We’ve had millions of views, and our key messages about safety and durability reached more people through our website, YouTube channel, and Facebook than we would’ve ever reached with a traditional news release.”
There are huge benefits to providing content that educates and informs, and it’s easy to measure the return on investment. How many hits did it get? Was it shared? Did it spark conversation? As the public and businesses become increasingly “social,” brand journalism can make communicating with consumers more interesting, while setting a company apart from outdated “push” marketing approaches.
Businesses that do it properly can create a huge competitive advantage, while increasing their credibility and relevancy in the marketplace.
Lisa Ostrikoff is a TV journalist/anchor-turned-creator of BizBOXTV, a web video and social media marketing agency. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.
Content Marketing: Why Online Video Is Vital
If you feel online video is just another over hyped, passing fad, think again. In fact, online video is gaining strength as a source for content marketing, as highlighted by the recent B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Survey for 2012.
The take-away? Most respondents prefer video over white papers, case studies, even live demos with reps. And you should factor that into your 2013 content marketing strategy.
By the way, this survey was compiled by marketing automation giant Eloqua, CMO.com (Adobe’s content site providing digital marketing news and insight for senior marketing executives around the globe) and Software Advice, an online consultancy which publishes product profiles, comparisons and best practices guides to help buyers find the right software for their business. Read the blog post with all the details and an insightful video here.
So, Why Video?
The web trending towards video is made obvious by much more than the example above. After all, YouTube is the number two search engine in the world. This may lead you to the conclusion that we simply don’t like to read anymore. But the video preference situation we’re witnessing is much more detailed than that. So the question you may be asking yourself (or your boss may be asking you) is: Why video?
For this, let’s reference an expert. A real Ph.D. level expert, Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D. — also known as The “Brain Lady.” As a leading speaker, author and consultant to brands like Amazon, Disney, Walmart and South By Southwest, she brings a deep understanding of the psychology of customers and why they do what they do.
She has uncovered four core, very human reasons we are drawn to video as a form of content marketing:
#1: The Fusiform Facial area makes us pay attention to faces – this is an actual brain function that hard-wires us to use the human face as a gathering point for information and believability.
#2: Voice conveys rich information – yes, the simple sound of a human voice speaking to us has an amazing way of converting information into meaningful content.
#3: Emotions are contagious – here’s a subtle but powerful aspect that we may take for granted. The body language of emotions is an appealing and we naturally love to share.
#4: Movement grabs attention – another trait that runs deep in our collective anthropological DNA is the power of peripheral motion. Since the stone age, we’ve survived by noticing things in motion – looks like we still do!
Advertisers are starting to push creative boundaries in an attempt to engage, using the latest innovations, from gaming strategies to social media to branded video and Web TV content.
But with all of the clutter we are surrounded by in this digital age, getting someone to pay attention to a company’s brand message seems to be getting trickier.
From annoying pop-up ads to often completely irrelevant video pre-rolls, the clutter is causing consumers’ “BS meters,” as digital rock star Gary Vaynerchuk has called them, to become more sensitive and accurate than ever before.
So while the speed of technology is increasing, it’s interesting to note that one of the hottest trends in online marketing might just be the age-old art of story-telling.
What does this mean? To cut through the clutter, businesses need to stop annoying, and start telling stories.
Story-telling has evolved from ancient rock markings to the current age, where brands are able to effectively tell their stories via Web video, blog posts and social media platforms. Despite technology’s effect on the methods we’re using to tell stories, the basics remain.
If you ask the experts, they’ll tell you the same story they’ve been telling for years.
“Marketing is storytelling,” says author, entrepreneur and expert Seth Godin. Writing on “ How to tell a great story,” Mr. Godin says that “first impressions are far more powerful than we give them credit for,” making it important to ensure your story does what you need it to do the first time someone reads, hears or watches it.
“Your products and your service and your people are all part of the story,” Mr. Godin adds.
Peter Guber, chief executive officer of Mandalay Entertainment Group and co-owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, also has a take on the importance of story-telling.
“Simply put, if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it,” he writes in Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story.
The first chapter is entitled “It’s about the story, stupid.” You can read it by downloading it here.
“Our brains still respond to content by looking for the story to make sense out of the experience. No matter what the technology, the meaning starts in the brain,” writes Pamela Brown Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, in The psychological power of storytelling posted on Psychology Today. She notes that there are several psychological reasons why story-telling is so powerful.
So, what’s your story? Ask yourself what messages you are trying to get across to your audience. Is your story authentic and interesting?
All businesses and business owners have a great story. This is the year to tell it, on purpose.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Larry Light, chief marketing officer at McDonald’s, said in 2004 that mass marketing no longer worked and that “no single ad tells the whole story.” McDonald’s, he said, had adopted a new marketing technique: “brand journalism”.
Light defined brand journalism, brand narrative or brand chronicle, as a way to record “what happens to a brand in the world,” and create ad communications that, over time, can tell a whole story of a brand.
One definition that encompasses how different this new world of communication is comes from the CreativeAgencySecrets.com blog, which says that, to understand brand journalism, we must picture: “a world in which brands tell the truth, advertisers act like publishers and all communication is real-time”.
Brand Journalism can also be defined as using the credibility and influence of news to tell a corporate story in order to achieve competitive differentiation.
It is rooted in the principles of traditional journalism and good storytelling.
It creates stories that are factual, balanced, well-investigated, timely and compelling.
It must embrace transparency, an understanding of news values, and relevance to the concerns of an audience.
It uses the full range of multimedia – including HD video, audio and photography – to tell stories.
It invites a two-way conversation around those stories on the full range of social media platforms.
It marries this journalism with the core elements of strategic PR and marketing communications – visionary planning, research, incisive messages and a defined purpose.
The result is an integrated, brand journalism-driven communications strategy.
It takes traditional public relations and transforms them, eschewing the one-sided, poorly-conceived, -targeted and -delivered press release.
It goes beyond traditional marketing staples such as product launches, competitions and promotions to tell compelling stories about an industry, issue or cause.
To do so it draws on an industry’s or an organization visionaries, its customers, suppliers and communities. It tells stories not just about an organization successes, but also about its challenges and struggles.
via Brand Journalism.
Almost two years ago, the social team at Cisco realized they needed a new communication strategy. Having spent a great deal of time in the past focusing on very traditional corporate communiqué, Cisco began to brainstorm a new approach to their “newsroom” and from this, The Network was born. Instead of producing typical corporate content like press releases, Cisco is leading the way as a frontrunner of Brand Journalism. The creators of the project, including Karen Snell, Digital Lead for the social media team, understand that traditional methods of communicating are no longer working or have become largely irrelevant to their customers. They also realize that there are a high percentage of quality writers with backgrounds in journalism out of work in today’s economy.
When concepting the project, Snell’s team at Cisco thought about how they could use these writers given their tremendous value in terms of reputation, influence, and existing audience. The team eventually brought in these thought leaders to write about virtually any topic of their choosing. Articles relating to technology, business, and other emerging trends began to pour out of the newsroom via The Network blog. Significantly, though the articles appear on a Cisco-sponsored site, the company’s name doesn’t show up in a large percentage of the stories.
Cisco’s strategy represents a new wave of content creation in which businesses are focusing on providing their customers and target audience with valuable information rather than sales pitches. The approach is known as “Brand Journalism,” though Cisco didn’t know that is what their project would be called at the time of its creation.
“The goal was to generate engaging content to spark a conversation. said Snell.
Brand journalism represents a new type of content creation that businesses are clamoring to get a grasp of. Quality content that enables more intimate conversation between brands and their target audiences is beginning to prove more effective than almost any other online marketing strategy.
Interestingly, the approach that Cisco has taken is quite similar to classic journalistic reporting, in which readers are allowed to discover, consume, and share articles for themselves rather than feel as if they have been “sold” a particular piece of content. By deftly integrating time-tested journalistic practices with the latest trends in social and engagement marketing, Cisco’s The Network offers a blueprint for success in Brand Journalism.
For businesses, there is a great deal to be learned from Cisco’s newsroom. When crafting your content marketing strategy, the key is to hire good writers, produce quality content, and get people to talk about your business in a new way.
via Brand Journalism: Social Media Today.