Brand journalism is a mix of content marketing, public relations and corporate communications. Rather than directly promoting a brand through traditional marketing methods or focusing on making a sale, brand journalism – sometimes referred to as “marketing through journalism” – focuses on building stories and other content that highlights a company or organization’s value from a different viewpoint.
With the advent of brand journalism, product and service vendors are increasingly becoming publishers as brands seek new ways to engage customers in an increasingly digital world and as advertisers cut back on spending on traditional media avenues. In the pre-internet days, companies hired PR firms to write press releases and make pitches to journalists, who used material from the releases and wrote articles. Today, companies can skip publications and PR firms and publish their own content, including blogs, online articles, websites, emails and social media, to gain customer attention.
While traditional journalism focuses on the “who, what, when, where, how and why” of a story, brand journalism concentrates on the “why” by using interviews and article-based websites that provide journalistic information to support a product’s features. Journalism-style stories encourage readers to learn more about companies and their offerings and interests them in stories that don’t read like bullet-point-riddled marketing or advertising copy. However, the sponsoring company’s name will likely not appear in the article, blog or other forms of brand journalism, nor will that of its competitors’, but brand journalism will also not likely include anything that could have a negative impact on the company.
Marketing experts distinguish between brand journalism and content marketing, which have different goals. They explain that although brand journalism is aimed at identifying and telling stories to provide a detailed image of the brand and create awareness of and an affinity toward it, the objective of content marketing is to influence audience behavior by publishing information that addresses buyer interests to fuel sales.
Brand journalism can help companies build trust with the content they produce by maintaining a reputation as reliable media sources for their audiences. Content that is too preachy, too branded or marketing-focused may come across as unreliable. Including information that has been researched rather than unfounded opinions is a key part of brand journalism.
Successful brand journalism might entail expanding content beyond marketing to include other topics in which customers might be interested such as industry trends, how-to pieces and other related copy. One marketing strategy is to mix up brand journalism with other content such as product demos and customer reviews.
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