Brand Journalism: The who, what and why

“Are you entitled to insurance compensation? Are you tired of hassling with insurance companies over your accident settlement? Are you being told your coverage doesn’t include your accident? Then get a tough attorney who gets tough with your claim and gets results.”

Brand Journalism: The Who, What and Why

I’ll bet you’ve seen that commercial, or one similar. Every city has them, attorneys who promise big insurance payouts, and of course for them, it is all about you. Some of these guys score a 10 on the “Cheese Factor” scale and the commercials prove it!

But there is a better way to generate leads and convert prospects into loyal customers without the cheesy commercials. It’s called brand journalism. (Read Part 1 of this series on brand journalism, titled: Brand Journalism: A proper definition)

Brand journalism builds your brand by telling your organization’s story in a journalistic way. It raises questions stakeholders and customers would ask about your organization and it answers them through stories about real people. Brand journalism goes deeper than just building a customer base, it builds relationships with customers.

So, where do you begin? Here are the three questions of brand journalism to get you started:

1. Who do you need?

The “who” is somebody who can tell a story, as in a journalist or former journalist. This excludes anyone who had a Journalism 101 class 20 years ago and believes themselves to be a journalist. We’re talking somebody who has experience interviewing people, gathering facts, and crafting news and feature stories for which they’ve actually gotten paid. Think of it this way: would you hire your neighbor to rebuild your transmission because he likes to “tinker” on cars? You may get a good deal, but will you get a reliable transmission?

The effectiveness of a brand journalism strategy depends on the quality of the reporting. Money invested in finding a quality writer significantly increases the probability of success.

2. What do you gain?

Be honest, you don’t watch commercials much anymore, do you? In fact, you probably wear out the jump button on your remote switching between two channels to avoid commercials.

But guess what? That’s exactly what people are doing to your marketing and advertising efforts. There really is no way in today’s world of millions of products and services to become more “FANTASTIC, more “POWERFUL,” more “ULTRA,” more “SUPER,” or to have more “BOLD FLAVOR” than the next guy. (Unless maybe you can come up with a drink that has an “Ultra-powerful, super-duper, fantastically bold flavor.”)

Truth is, we are numb to such hyperboles. A more effective approach is simply telling your brand’s story and how it has made a difference in the lives of those who have done business with you. It doesn’t matter if your business or organization is product or service oriented, brand journalism gains for you an audience – people with whom you can share your story and with whom you can build a relationship.

And isn’t that the point of your marketing effort anyway? Instead of trying to be more super, fantastic or ultra than the next guy, why not simply be you.

If you and your organization are truly worth engaging, then let others explain through a well-written, compelling story how their interaction with you was worth their investment in time and money. 

3. Why do you need it?

That’s easy: Brand credibility. For too long brands (organizations, businesses, and people) have lived with the fallacy that they are what they say they are. That’s never been the case, but people never had the means to tell brands what they really think of them.

That all changed with the birth of social media. Brands have always been what others think about them and social media gives people the platform to broadcast those thoughts far and wide. Before, brands could get away with poor quality or poor customer service and not experience the repercussions. Now, brands decades in the making can be destroyed in an afternoon Twitter storm.

Brand journalism builds brand credibility because it puts you in the marketplace and most importantly, the conversation – in a good way!

Brand journalism seeds the opportunity for positive viral social media dissemination, giving you an opportunity to reach potential customers farther and deeper than your traditional marketing effort ever could have. What’s more, you gain credibility every time your brand journalism effort passes from friend to friend, because friends extend trust to friends. Remember, trust equals credibility.

Now, all you have to do is concentrate on being who you are, which has the added benefit of creating even more brand journalism opportunities, more good stories, more credibility, and more marketing success!

Have you answered these three questions for your organization’s brand journalism efforts?

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The above post is Part 2 of a series and is an excerpt from a forthcoming eBook on Brand Journalism by Ben Stroup and Chris Turner

Part 1: Brand Journalism: A proper definition

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