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The newsroom approach: Make customers care with brand journalism


March 5, 2012

More organizations are using strategic brand journalism and content marketing to create news and educational material that benefits their audiences, rather than purely promotional advertisements.

While these strategies require sustained effort and budgeting, they deliver tangible returns for companies.

Catalytic Products International, a manufacturer of air pollution control equipment, implemented a content strategy in 2011 with its agency, Arment Dietrich, Inc., to generate product quotes from new prospects.

The company’s newsletters, Web copy and white papers addressed topics ranging from EPA regulations to advice on preventative maintenance plans. The initiative garnered 66 quote requests for an additional $2.2 million in revenue.

“In an economy where businesses are concerned about spending large sums of money, the consistent visibility, thought leadership and accessibility of resources we’ve helped create form a special bond between our client and their prospects,” says Molli Megasko, an account executive with Arment Dietrich.

Newsroom mentality

A key distinction between content marketing and brand journalism is that the latter takes a newsroom approach to developing information.

An online newsroom is the foundation of brand journalism. Organizations populate newsrooms with compelling stories, blogs and visuals that go beyond a brand’s own concerns to cover broad perspectives about an industry.

Companies immersed in these efforts staff their newsrooms with full-time editorial personnel and use curated posts from other thought leaders.

Here are a few examples of companies using the newsroom approach. The Louisiana Seafood Board worked with News Strategies LLC following BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill to launch an online newsroom that covered people and businesses that the crisis impacted by using articles, photos and videos.

The Board cites the newsroom as a catalyst for securing $30 million in relief assistance from BP.

Organizations are finding ways to be interesting and innovative with newsrooms as well. For example, Organic Valley, a cooperative of organic farmers and a popular national food brand, blends brand and industry news on its site.

General Motors uses Google+ as a social newsroom where employees and executives can share tailored information with individuals or groups of journalists, bloggers and customers via the site’s Circles feature.

While brand journalism requires effort and budget to sustain, it puts information for sales, donations, memberships and elections in a more logical sequence that people can act on as needed.

Keep these tips in mind when managing your content:

  • Put the customer first. Organizations reap rewards by putting themselves second, sharing valuable information while waiting for moments that their offerings can assist people.
     
  • Leverage lifecycles. Gauge trends that you can cover multiple times versus news requiring one timely post.
     
  • Be a thought leader rather than a salesperson. Lead capture forms can brand your material as advertising. Only include your contact information; when your messages are strong, people will come find you.

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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