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Brand journalism creates another viable news outlet


October 14, 2010

When a business publishes and shares valuable information rather than pushing sales and marketing  jargon, it is often with the intent of enlightening and helping readers. This type of brand journalism is now trending because it is accessible to readers online and companies can measure its value on the social Web.

An online newsroom publishing original stories about how an industry’s issues affect customers is an example of  brand journalism (see May’s Digital Dialogue column featuring the Imperial Sugar Company). Likewise, a blog post or contributed article offering advice with only a simple byline reference of the author’s business can be considered brand journalism.

Companies practicing brand journalism develop followers who trust them and who will, in fact, consider their products and services when needs arise — a return on awareness or reward for consistently providing relevant information.

Blending expertise and influence
Businesses have been merging blogs, video, audio and graphics on the Web to offer relevant information for their key stakeholders, prospects and customers.  This is often called content marketing. It shares similarities with brand journalism, although the latter focuses on communicating in an objective news style.

Journalists are best suited to create brand journalism content, as they provide the authenticity and professionalism required to make such an effort successful.

Consider that many writers, photographers and video journalists who formally covered your space are now available for hire or project work.  You may also have people in your organization with a news skill set who can help.

PR practitioners can create brand journalism content as well as generate coverage from it. Many communicators have the story-telling abilities that, if channeled correctly, can support brand journalism.  Alternatively, public relatons can provide editorial direction by identifying specific journalists who can develop stories.

Practitioners can use this content, no matter who creates it, for media relations. The Oriella PR Network’s 2010 Digital Journalism Study indicates 46 percent of journalists surveyed are expected to produce more content than in previous years, and also 28 percent have less time to research stories.

Selecting a format
Brand journalism formats mirror how online publications build their own content.  These include:

  • Creating — This home-grown and time-intensive approach lists originality and thought leadership as benefits, making it one of the best for endearing readers to a brand and generating content for potential media reference.
  • Commissioning —  This approach allows businesses and readers to benefit from the knowledge and unique perspectives of outside writers.
  • Aggregating/Syndicating — Businesses aggregate content as an affordable method of re-posting others’ writings, often with the only costs being reciprocal links with bloggers and providing them another outlet for their work. Forecasting Clouds, funded by Aplicor, is a hybrid news portal that commissions journalists to cover cloud computing technology and syndicates content from industry analysts and bloggers.

Brand journalism is becoming prevalent in the new publishing era. Use it wisely and everyone can prosper.
 

Ryan Zuk, APR Ryan Zuk, APR, is a media and analyst relations professional, Phoenix PRSA Chapter member and Sage North America representative. Zuk can be reached @ryanzuk on Twitter. He also blogs at criticalmasspr.com.
Email: ryanzuk at gmail dot com



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