What Is A Brand Journalist?

Brand journalists tell news-style stories about a company that makes readers want to know more, stories that aren’t based on marketing or advertising.

You may be familiar with brand journalism by a different name, such as corporate journalism or corporate media. 

Still, however you refer to it, understanding how it can benefit your business is important.

Answering what is brand journalism is complex, and not all companies would provide the same answer.

More and more companies are creating “journalistic” content. Some are hiring actual journalists.

Others are building studios, hiring camera crews, and launching dedicated news sites to cover themselves and their industries.

Today, companies can skip publications and PR firms and publish their content to gain customer attention, including blogs, online articles, websites, emails, and social media.

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.

It takes traditional public relations and transforms them, eschewing the one-sided, poorly-conceived, -targeted, and -delivered press release.

It goes beyond traditional marketing staples such as product launches, competitions, and promotions to tell compelling stories about an industry, issue, or cause.

But what exactly is brand journalism? And how do companies apply this approach to their content?

What Is Brand Journalism?

Brand journalism, also popularly referred to as corporate journalism, is researching everything relevant to a company’s customer pool, creating content, and spreading it to appropriate people.

The concept’s core is creating content from an editorial approach that puts the audience first, not the company.

What the audience wants to hear from a company might not match what a company wants to write; brand journalism aims to bridge that gap.

Brand journalism will often become part of your overall content marketing strategy. And while it’s usually not directly responsible for sales, it can contribute to your brand’s growth.

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Where Did Brand Journalism Come From?

McDonald’s chief marketing officer, Larry Light, created the concept in 2004. Light said that mass marketing no longer worked and “no single ad tells the whole story.”

He announced that he’d adopted a new marketing technique: brand journalism.

Light defined brand journalism, brand narrative, or brand chronicle, as a way to record “what happens to a brand in the world,” and create ad communications that, over time, can tell a whole brand story.

He was rejecting traditional marketing and advertising approaches that focused on brand positioning in favor of a content stream approach involving multiple channels and journalism-style writing.

His model was how an editor approaches a magazine’s creation, with its array of very different content aimed at various interests — hence, brand journalism.

Franchise systems adopted the practice early; today, it is one of the most productive ways to generate leads and engage customers.

Big corporations — Boeing, Cisco, and Imperial Sugar, to name a few — successfully adopted it. Now even small companies use it with great results.

By incorporating the mindset and even the professionals of an industry, they get different results and drive more attention to them.

So, brand journalism stands between traditional journalism and content marketing. It seeks to inform people objectively, but also tries to convince them to engage with the company.

However, it’s important to point out that brand journalism is not as sales-oriented as content marketing usually is.

Why Is Brand Journalism Important?

Brand journalists help shape the way customers see your brand, how they talk about it, and what they think about it.

It can also give them an exclusive glimpse of how you do business.

This kind of transparency is critical to today’s consumers and makes them feel a part of your brand story.

By creating compelling content, rather than generic ‘brand-speak,’ companies are more likely to benefit from the increased trust fostered by being authentic.

Brands can also drive down inbound marketing costs because readers choose to engage organically and share the brand’s original content.

Corporate Journalism Techniques

Brand journalism is a mix of content marketing, public relations, and corporate communications.

Rather than directly promoting a brand through traditional marketing methods or 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.

It uses the full range of multimedia – including HD video, audio, and photography – to tell stories.

It invites a two-way conversation around those stories on the full range of social media platforms.

It marries this journalism with the core elements of strategic PR and marketing communications – visionary planning, research, intelligent messages, and a defined purpose.

The result is an integrated, brand journalism-driven communications strategy.

Another way to publish great brand journalism is to partner with brand journalism or sponsored content studio.

Many traditional news outlets now have content studios that work directly with companies to create brand journalism.

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Writing Blogs

These days pretty much every company has some kind of corporate blog. The idea is to use the blog instead of press releases at the most basic level.

But some companies want to do more. Some create content to generate leads.

For them, the news is just another form of content that they can use to attract an audience of readers who might convert into paying customers. 

Others produce news as a kind of service to their customers.

Instead of listing bullet points or writing long copy of what a brand can do for the customer, brand journalism opens the avenue to have an actual conversation, leading brands to better connect with their target audience.

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.

Journalism-style stories encourage readers to learn more about companies and their offerings and interest them in stories that don’t read like bullet-point-riddled marketing or advertising copy

One marketing strategy is to mix brand journalism with content such as product demos and customer reviews.

IBM’s blogs (A Smarter Planet, IBM Research, and CitizenIBM) focus on industry trends and transformation. Also, they discuss how corporates can change society.

So, they educate readers about using technology for everyone’s well-being. In this case, besides telling stories, the brand assumes a point of view and makes statements.

When you talk about a topic, you create demand and generate attention to it. So the subject becomes relevant to everyone.

It’s like being a well-known source of authority in your business. You will get there if you start focusing on personal stories about your brand.

When you’re at this level, you’re the one who creates discussions about subjects that matter to your business. This way, educating people about what you want them to learn is easier.

The goal is to foster stronger, more meaningful relationships with your customers.

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 content to gain customer attention, including blogs, online articles, websites, emails, and social media.

Train Your Content Marketing Team

You can also offer training and teach your existing content and marketing team journalism skills.

Many online journalism courses can help you if you have a more traditional marketing team that needs to gain journalism writing skills.

Why Should You Hire Brand Journalists?

Using content as part of your growth marketing strategy is a must.

And there are many ways you can incorporate brand journalism into your content to achieve your aggressive revenue goals.

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.

Companies are also hiring journalists to fill a void that the decline of traditional media outlets has created.

In 1980, the ratio of PR professionals to journalists in the United States was 1.2 to 1. By 2010, three decades later, there were four PR professionals for every journalist in the U.S.

To keep going, marketers had to think of new ways to publish content with different purposes, such as lead generation, increasing brand awareness, and others.

That’s how they remained creative and continued the conversation with customers. The term brand journalism then became prominent as a strategy to talk to users differently.

In 2012, the Public Relations Society of America named “brand journalism” one of its top trends.

The media is overwhelmed and simply can’t keep up. The best way to be part of the story is to become a journalist.

Brand Journalism & Content Marketing

You know content is important to marketing for your business. You might have piloted content marketing and seen success.

Although brand journalism aims to identify and tell 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.

While content marketing is interested in the outcome (the decision users need to make), brand journalism concentrates more on the effect and impact that articles and stories provoke.

The buying process and generating leads are often the main arguments why you should not use these terms interchangeably.

Stories written by brand journalists are meant to connect more strongly on a personal level and create a favorable impression of the brand.

Its goal is to find and tell the stories that convey a brand’s “personality.”

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When Did Kennected Incorporate Brand Journalism?

Kennected hired its first brand journalist at the beginning of 2022.

The initial goal of the position was to speak with thought leaders and tell a good story about the company through a journalistic style.

Our blog fills you in on marketing insights, expertise, and inspiration from marketing leaders in the company and industry.

When you hire journalists, you want to gain new audiences and potential customers through sharing interesting stories and content marketing.

You can follow our brand journalism journey here or check out our YouTube channel for additional content.

The Bottom Line

Brand journalism is marketing through journalism.

Instead of using content that directly promotes the brand through traditional marketing tactics, corporate journalism focuses on telling stories and offering informational content that highlights the brand’s value from a different perspective.

Hop-On The Kennected Train

According to HubSpot, 61% of companies name their top marketing challenge is generating traffic and leads.

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And more importantly, it helped over 17,000 businesses get new leads and sales for THEIR businesses.

Want to see how it works?

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