Article

Dragana Nikolic
Dragana Nikolic 24 February 2015
Categories Content

How Come You Are A Brand Journalist?

For all who write and publish on their behalf or somebody else's, one thing is certain: the content needs to be relevant, up-to-date and accurate. Only this way we can establish communication.

"Tell me who you go with and I’ll tell you who you are!"


Apart from the image of a newspaper boy carrying bundle of yesterday’s top news that appear next to the bottle of fresh milk, today’s news appear everywhere – whether we subscribe or not. For all who write and publish on their behalf or somebody else’s, one thing is certain: the content needs to be relevant, up-to-date and accurate. Only this way we can establish communication.

Communicating means telling a story. This is where all began and all will end. Media companies are not the only ones that tell us stories. Neither companies are the only ones that create ads campaigns. Today, companies strive to create a genuine and quality piece of content that will certainly work for them. You already know this one, right.

Storytelling is a top priority for many companies and organizations in terms of brand awareness and promotion. It seems that everything started with McDonald’s back in 2004, when its CMO Larry Light introduced a major change based solely on communication. Even if a brand is famous worldwide, it still needs a market segmentation. In this case, this was possible by introducing brand journalism. Brand journalism became a new way to market a brand. Firstly, your audience needs to like the subject of the story that is relevant and wrapped around a mutual interest. Secondly, if this storytelling thing is a part of journalism in general, then it has to answer the crucial 5 W + 1 questions. This is how Mr. Light did it for McDonald’s brand:

  • WHY does the customer use this product (service)
  • WHAT are the wants that using this product (service) satisfy
  • WHO are the people with these (subject of communication) needs
  • WHEN* do these needs exist
  • WHERE* do these needs exist
  • HOW* do these needs exist

*marketers should answer the last three questions.

Moreover, a way the company tells a story is essential for recipients. That is the essence of brand journalism. Brand journalism = tell a story about a brand. This approach is the best way to connect with customers. Marketing professionals know about this approach and are now trying to reengage their audiences by using excellent storytelling. So, this is the main reason why McDonald’s brand survived its major crisis more than 10 years ago. Their brand has changed from “not being good to customers’ health” into something “everybody likes”.

Another very important thing in brand journalism is:

  • Journalism Skills
  • Ethics and code of conduct

Journalism skills include excellent writing skills, high level of literacy and a sense for the story. This is not an official definition, but something that every person called “a journalist” needs to possess. According to BBC academy, something essential for journalists is the way of reporting, interviewing, presenting, researching and, the most important for digital era, getting the most out of social media. The same is for brand journalism: accurate information, timely content, relevant and eye-catchy stories with a heavy background are ingredients for great brand awareness.

On the other hand, each brand journalist needs to follow the ethics rules and basiccodes of conduct while creating media content. With emphasis on brand journalism, original content should contain gender sensitive stories, non-discriminating touch points, but also accurate and objective reporting with a sense of privacy and respect for media freedoms.

According to Jayson DeMers: “A great journalist finds a story, tells it in a way that grabs hold of the audience and won’t let go, and leaves an impression that stays with viewers or readers for a long time”. The same goes with brand journalism. It represents a bridge between brand management and journalistic storytelling. This communication aims at affecting the audience in the way they wish to start or continue using a product or a service presented within the story timeline. Successful stories written by brand journalists can only prove the strength of quality storytelling and the overall brand importance. Brand journalism is the one that establishes conversation with customers. Only couple of years ago, public relations (PR) companies and/or departments were responsible for raising brand awareness. Today, PR has also become digital and content creators overtook the role of PR managers. Modern PR manages are, therefore, company’s brand journalists. Here are some of the key benefits of brand journalism that affected modern PR:

  1. Brand journalism brings public relations back to the track. PR departments used to create a full company image to the public. Brand journalism does the same, but it uses more sophisticated methods rather than direct announcements.
  2. Brand journalists have replaced traditional PR experts. This is why brand journalism can be the future of PR.
  3. PR experts are the best brand advocates; brand journalists create a long-term brand awareness.
  4. People of PR need to adopt new technologies and learn new ways to conduct searches; brand journalists are already adept of technology trends and are perceptive researchers.

The main secret lies in communication. Effective messages and well-segmented market help the brands achieve high competitiveness levels. As long as people have been communicating, we have used stories to relate to each other, make sense of the world around us, and help us make decisions as we go through life. Brand journalism is, therefore, a message to people – either these people belong to business or consumer sector. Back to the brand storytelling, let us note that brand journalism is more than making a story that promotes a particular brand. Clever specialists make stories that are very attractive and do not promote a brand directly. Instead, they often talk about emotional aspects of our lives. Dell publishes one of these stories, which represents an excellent example of a quality and effective storytelling.

On the other hand, companies raise their brand awareness by publishing company-related stories. This method brings their customers closer to their internal culture, premises, employees, process of production, etc. So, brand journalism (in corporate form) should consist of: corporate newsroom – publishing relevant news about the company, success stories, interviews with employees and clients, etc.; storytelling team – group of creative people that bring narratives into engaging visual content;creative bloggers – journalists with immense experience that write and publish quality and optimized content. Brand journalists can work for an agency and deliver content to companies that aim to promote or support a cause. The effective storytelling example:

# “Slap Her” campaign:

Today, journalism is everywhere. Apart from print or electronic media, journalism is more online than even. Internet and social media have declared everybody who can report from the news scene as journalists. We all contribute to media by sharing our stories online – both written and visual. That’s why companies eager for this type of content. They want to establish communication with their customers. Brand journalists are the right people who have the knowledge, proper formal education and experience in storytelling. Companies want only great stories to publish and disseminate online because, combined with ads, they bring large revenues. Again, according to Larry Light: “Brand journalism is increasing in importance in this new, increasingly fragmented, personalized, digital, always-on, mobile era.” We need to understand that customers have become more demanding than before. Companies need only qualified people that will make the story and start effective communication – especially online. The advantages of digital era, combined with outstanding brand journalism projects, lead to increasing brand awareness and, ultimately, sales.

Try to be:

  • Objective
  • Sincere
  • Accurate
  • Creative

And choose the correct answer: [ I AM ] or [ I AM STILL NOT ] a brand journalist.

Image source: Pinterest, Google Search screenshots

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