5 Tips for Incorporating Brand Journalism Into Your Communications Strategy









January 2012

If you’ve spent any time looking at last year’s PR and marketing trends, you’ll find no shortage of buzzwords such as, “engagement,” “SEO,” “hyperlocal,” and “mobile outreach.” We can now add “brand journalism” to the mix as communications professionals look to move beyond traditional content marketing and strengthen their storytelling game in 2012.

With the web saturated with content, more audiences control how, when, and which types of content they receive. Thus, it is no surprise that organizations are taking a journalistic approach when writing their stories, in an effort to emulate more of the tone and feel of the media in their own content creation efforts.

Below are 5 tips to help you and your organization get the most out of brand journalism.

1. Keep focus external. As you pay attention to the end-user experience your efforts will be more effective. With brand journalism – or any type of content marketing – it is essential that you focus on the needs of the audience and ask, “What is the value?” If you can’t come up with a valid reason for why your audience would want to read your piece and respond to your calls-to-action, it is best that you switch to another effort, confirms David Spark, journalist, producer, speaker, and owner of Spark Media Solutions.

2. Build credibility and trust. Someone will always be telling the stories. And if you are taking part in branded journalism this means that you must also be willing to enter into a balanced discussion. As industry professionals were quick to point out during the 2011 SXSW conference, “Brands need to report from an industry-wide perspective, which means giving competitors and unsavory stories air time in the branded channels.”(Brand Journalism: Ethics, Opportunities & Outcomes)

3. Assign the right people. There are many different types of writing and editorial styles. Brand journalism differs from pitches and advertorials and requires a different skill set than traditional communications professionals and copywriters are typically accustomed. “Hire someone who writes about your industry. You don’t have to limit this to marketing professionals either. You want to add former reporters, outstanding bloggers or even sources you rely on everyday – people who can research and report on what is going on quickly,” suggests Dan Stasiewski, a consultant at Kuno, an inbound marketing agency.

4. Make content visible. Just because your company or client has a website doesn’t mean that people are seeing it or that it is necessarily capturing and holding their attention. As social media expert Shel Holtz advises, “The goal with branded content isn’t necessarily to solicit profits, but to make companies visible, because these days, if your business doesn’t have content on the world wide web, you’re essentially invisible – even if you have a company website.” (Branded Content Isn't New)

5. Leverage your blog and other social media. Like with other forms of marketing and communications, brand journalism needs to fit into your overall communications strategy. Plan articles to support other company initiatives and use these materials to enhance your existing campaigns. (Find out which blogs rank the highest on the new BurrellesLuce 2012 Top Media Outlets: Newspapers, Blogs, Consumer Magazines, Social Networks, and Websites.)

BottomLine: Whether you are employing brand journalism, content marketing, or some other outreach tactic, your content needs to be consumer-focused and relevant. Download this BurrellesLuce tip sheet on PR Storytelling for more helpful tips. And remember, BurrellesLuce is there to help you work smarter by monitoring and reporting on all the media coverage that is relevant to you. 

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