"Brand journalism" is one of the latest online marketing trends, along with "smarketing", "gamification", and "native marketing" (which we will over in a later post). What is brand journalism, and is it something that you should be doing with your business? Is it something that you might already be doing, particularly if you're already publishing things about your brand? We're going to cover that today.
What is Brand Journalism?
McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer Larry Light defined brand journalism as a way to record “what happens to a brand in the world” and create ad communications that, over time, can tell a whole story of a brand. Lisa Ostrikoff, owner of social media marketing agency BizBOXTV, makes a good point about brand journalism in the Globe and Mail:
Brand journalism is about facts and balance. It’s about telling an engaging story, and the goal is to educate rather than blatantly market. This way, readers or viewers are informed, and they become engaged with your business and it’s mission.
Combining those two points, brand journalism is telling your brand's story with the facts and balance that make good journalism. This means that it's not about marketing or making a sale, but about offering a variety of content types and perspectives that's meant to engage many interests and audiences. It also means that brand journalism is likely to be something you are participating in already in some shape or form.
Brand Journalism Options
Brand journalism involves a variety of content types, but there are three primary options of where you can have your content placed for exposure: paid media, earned media, and owned media.
Paid media is exactly as the name states; it's exposure that was paid for or is "rented" (once you stop paying, the exposure goes away, for the most part). Examples of brand journalism in paid media include product placements, pay-per-click, and social advertising. Guest posting could also be included here as we have run across cases where online publications charged to publish your guest post (which you should never do because if it includes backlinks, then you've essentially paid for links that Google doesn't like that).
Earned media is more of a partnership. You've convinced the media entity that your content is worthwhile to publish. Common examples of this include guest posting (where you don't pay), editorial coverage, expert opinion pieces, and social media. Social media is earned media because if your content is shared, that's earned exposure. It's also earned media because if Facebook were to disappear tomorrow, you wouldn't have your page or this outlet for your content, so you've earned some space on Facebook to share your content.
Owned media is sharing content on outlets that your company owns. Unless you close the outlet, you never lose it as an option. Examples of brand journalism in owned media include blog content, web content, events/webinars, videos, and images. Of course, all of those could be the other two if they are placed on a third-party medium, but they are primarily owned media because they are typically created by you and published on the media that you own.
Is Brand Journalism for You?
Brand journalism seems daunting, but it is something that smaller businesses can participate in as well. As long as its understood that brand journalism exists outside the corporate mandate and isn't treated as simply another marketing tool, then brand journalism can be successful for just about anyone. Articles, news stories, and reports are considered some of the most credible sources of of company information, so taking this power into your own hands instead of waiting for someone else to use it or to give it to you is, well, powerful.
Remember to tell a good story in brand journalism. Tell it with poise, clarity, and intelligence. Businesses have stories too, and they are much more than the products and services you have to offer.