Having trouble getting media outlets to pay attention to your company and what it's doing? Are your press releases doing little to bring in traffic and quality leads? Are you having trouble understanding why no one cares about your products and services? If that sounds like you, then you need to stop relying on others to tell the story of your brand and to tell that story yourself. Introducing: brand journalism. Read how Todd Blecher, communications director at Boeing, defines brand journalism on the right here. It's a great definition, and Boeing has been an excellent brand journalism examples for a few years now.
Brand Journalism Isn't Scandalous Exposes about the Competition
Brand journalism isn't a fancy euphemism for public relations, nor is it writing pieces to disparage the competition. Yes, as Blecher says, it's not an impartial practice and it's one that promotes a brand's message and perspectives. But that's messaging and perspectives about the industry, about what's important to your audience. It's essentially becoming the reporter and the media outlet regarding your overall industry or niche, serving the audience with their informational needs. For example, a property management company can cover things that would be of interest to landlords and to doing their job, instead of just what they can do for landlords. A web development firm can cover all things Internet, instead of just web development or why people and businesses need websites.
Brand Journalism Will Get You Backlinks (Eventually)
Backlinks, backlinks, backlinks. It's what a lot of companies want, and it's something that we've had clients want. We understand that and would like to help. The hard part is that these companies and clients want to get backlinks by getting press and mentions on "higher ranking" websites, either through guest posts or slipping in a link or two. It works if you can get away with it, as many blogs and online publications still don't like the idea of us being paid to write a quality article for someone else. Even though brand journalism does include this aspect, it doesn't rely on it for those inbound links.
Brand journalism earns backlinks by telling the story on your own channels, according to your own guidelines, instead of bending over backwards to meet someone else's (and hope that they publish your story in a timely fashion). By simply creating compelling content and taking the initiative to engage with your customers and potential customers directly, you will earn those backlinks and they will be much more valuable and worthwhile than those you had to fight to get published.
Brand Journalism Isn't a Conflict of Interest
Traditional journalism may say that money exchanging hands creates a conflict of interest, that paying someone to write about you will automatically discount everything they have to say. That's simply not the case for two reasons.
First, it's presumed that this payment is meant to ensure a positive opinion or spin on the company. That may be the case in advertising or product reviews, but brand journalism isn't advertising or reviews. Brand journalism is about great storytelling, providing the news and information that the audience wants and needs to hear. They are stories that aren't necessarily about the brand, and they're not necessarily positive stories. They are good, well-written, informative stories. Yes, money exchanges hands, but that's to ensure the people who create this content are professionals that can keep the audience interested. The money shouldn't matter if the audience takes away something valuable from the story.
Second, it should be clear, or at least attempted to make clear, that the brand journalist is there on behalf of the brand. If this person is writing articles for the company blog, then should be obvious that the person is associated with the company, if not paid by them to do those articles. As long as its clear, your customers and potential customers are okay with the paid content and having a brand journalist on your team. Over 90% of consumers find custom content useful, and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them.
Brand Journalism isn't a Bad Thing
It's really not, when you do it right. It's way better than advertising because it's not all about the sales pitch and closing a sale right then and there. It's about conveying an emotion instead of a product benefit. It's about telling a compelling story instead of tooting your own horn. It's about taking initiative in expressing what your brand is all about, instead of waiting on someone else to figure it out.