Brand Journalism: Three misconceptions

You may think that brand journalism is like a new and improved version of marketing and advertising. It’s kind of an old barn with a fresh coat of paint. If so, you’re wrong.

Brand Journalism as strategy

Here are three misconceptions people have and the truth about brand journalism:.

  1. Brand journalism is the new advertising. Nothing could be further from the truth. Brand journalism doesn’t pitch anything. Brand journalism isn’t a clever commercial with a perky spokesperson. Brand journalism doesn’t even have a jingle (gasp!). Done well, brand journalism is comparable to solid news and feature writing. There is no deception. Brand journalism is done with full disclosure and has substantive information at its core. Its goal is to inform readers, not sell them something.
  1. Brand journalism must feature a product to be successful. No! Brand journalism features people. There is a difference between making your product or service the star of the show and making people the star of the show and your product or service a supporting cast member. Brand journalism is about enhancing people’s lives through useful information. It allows you to avoid the product pitch and shoot for a relationship built on trust.
  1. Brand journalism isn’t as effective as traditional advertising and marketing campaigns. Au contraire, mon frère. Think about the difference in approaches. Often advertising and marketing strategies blast the masses, attempting to convince people they have a problem so you can then attempt to convince them a product or service is a solution to the problem. Brand journalism, however, speaks to people who already know they have a problem and came looking for you to solve it because you informed them, earned trust as a result, and now have the opportunity to build a relationship that could result in brand loyalty and advocacy.

Brand journalism as strategy

Over the past several weeks, I’ve defined brand journalism and discussed the who, what, and why; talked about what makes for a good story and detailed what makes for a good brand journalism story; and explained  how brand journalism differs from advertising and marketing. So… questions?

Ah, yes, we see that hand in the back of the class. What’s that you say? Now what do you do?

Good question. The answer: Congratulations! You are now in the publishing industry (well, sort of).

Lest you think you should start cranking out copy like an an old mimeograph machine, let’s talk strategy. There are two sides of the brand journalism strategy coin and I’ve talked a lot about the content creation side of it. The other side of that coin is the logistics of providing a platform for your content.

There is a lot of talk about content marketing strategies these days, and rightfully so. Brand journalism is a foundational element that adds significant depth to a content strategy employed by any type of organization…and every organization ought to employ a content strategy. The important point to remember is you need useful content that’s easy to find. Both are equally important.

So, yes, you do need to become a publishing company of sorts, but using your existing platforms. Where on your organization’s website you can create a space to host the content you produce? A newsroom is a good place; however, having a blog page as part of your organization’s website is also a viable option. The objective of an effective brand journalism strategy is to create useful content and aggregate it in a common, online space so it is easy to find.

Book publishers hire writers to produce copy, then spend a lot of time on the packaging and marketing of the book. This is where your space containing well-produced, aggregated copy helps your marketing effort. It is now in a space that can be promoted through social media or any variety of media and public relations techniques.

Create excellent content and present it well and you’ve now positioned yourself to more successfully generate lead opportunities.

What are some other misconceptions about brand journalism?


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

Part 2: Brand Journalism: The who, what and why

Part 3: Brand Journalism: A thousand words are worth a picture

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