Read this article to find out what is brand journalism, where it fits within the current media landscape, and see examples of this type of content marketing.
Brand journalism is a type of content marketing in which a business or organization creates media content to increase brand recognition and trust.
An example of this would be an accounting business starting a magazine dedicated to personal finance or a copywriting business having a dedicated writing podcast on the art of writing words that sell.
Companies typically choose brand journalism as part of their marketing strategy to tell their brand stories, position themselves as an authority on specific subjects, or help with lead generation. It can also build an audience’s trust in the organization and can further enforce an audience’s brand awareness and loyalty.
The Origins Of Brand Journalism
Brand journalism has been linked to the early 2000s when McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer Larry Light recognized that traditional marketing didn’t tell an organization’s full story.
That’s where brand journalism comes in, telling the story of “what happens to a brand in the world.” He believed by conducting brand journalism, an organization could give an overview of its journey to an audience and detail its values and qualities in a way that traditional marketing couldn’t.
Hubspot’s article ‘A CMO’s Guide To Brand Journalism’ discusses the approaches companies are taking towards mixing media and marketing. The article reads:
“Call it what you will: brand journalism, corporate journalism, corporate media. 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.”
Of course, the quality of the stories the brand journalist tells has a major effect on the interest a target audience has in their output. That’s why brands that invest heavily in production, SEO, and upskilling their in-house teams tend to do better than organizations that use brand journalism as an afterthought.
Media As A Form Of Marketing
In the past, many graduates starting a journalism career began in a public relations department. However, nowadays, many large-scale organizations run their media and news sites.
For instance, you could be a graduate journalist working in a Microsoft newsroom or a documentary maker working on Red Bull’s latest feature film. You might even combine your journalism knowledge with the best AI content marketing tools.
The root of the idea is that if a brand approaches its content creation like journalists reporting on a specific subject, the audience gets a more detailed and engaging narrative. This creates a deepened between the customer and the brand.
Whereas, with traditional marketing, a company typically highlights its qualities through advertising campaigns and sloganeering. As a form of marketing, this is good for making potential customers aware of your brand, but it doesn’t build a connection.
Brand journalism instead sees organizations create content that is typical of the media and demonstrates authority and knowledge, ensuring that they are viewed as the go-to source on a particular subject. Then, a brand gets the opportunity to detail its story in a way that may otherwise end up as an unread press release in a journalist’s inbox.
Traditional Journalism Qualities Mixed With Traditional Marketing
Good brand journalists know that their work must still be based on traditional journalism principles. For instance, brand reporting has to be rooted in facts, and it also still has to be timely. It also has to be balanced and relevant to the audience.
If a company’s content doesn’t fit into those values, it is unlikely to be sought out by the public and will come across as poorly-executed self-serving PR.
Likewise, brand journalists know that when they create content, they must also work off some of the principles associated with traditional marketing. For instance, the content plan must have a clear vision and a definitive purpose.
Some goals of brand content include lead generation, brand awareness, and educating potential clients on why your organization is best. You might also be wondering, what is social journalism?
5 Examples of Brand Journalism
A huge number of companies have added newsrooms to their organization in recent times. Of course, some of them do it better than others. Below are a selection of brand journalism operations you may be interested in.
1. Adobe’s CMO.com
Adobe is best known for its PhotoShop and InDesign software programs. However, it also offers marketing products designed for executives in that field, such as the Adobe Marketing Cloud.
To support this offering, It also created CMO.com. It contains brand media designed for those working within the marketing world.
Adobe said that it was created as a “demonstration of Adobe’s commitment to helping CMOs lead their companies in a digital world.” The site contains content relevant to marketing professionals, with written news aggregation and feature writing as the most common types of content.
2. Red Bull
Red Bull’s content marketing is something to behold, with the Austrian energy drink company now recognized as a top media publisher. Their portfolio includes print media, TV, film, podcasts, and audio brand journalism.
Entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz launched the company back in 1987. From there, it has grown into the most prominent energy drink on the planet and a prominent producer of media content.
Much of its content focuses on extreme sports and exhilarating events, which lends itself perfectly to the tone of its brand. In fact, it has been so successful with brand journalism endeavors that they are no longer viewed as an energy drink brand but rather a culture and lifestyle brand.
The company’s team became experts at telling stories in a digital world relevant to their audience and which epitomizes the brand.
3. American Express’s Business Class
American Express may be known for providing credit and loan opportunities for small businesses. However, it also has Business Class, which provides business news and features to an already-defined audience.
Business Class provides tips and news for entrepreneurs, allowing American Express to use digital marketing to place itself as a thought leader within the industry.
Some of the compelling content features on the site include podcasts, video news, and case studies.
4. Microsoft Source
Microsoft Source is known for its feature and videos on various subjects. It’s an outstandingly good site and easily rivals much of what the mainstream media companies are producing. Amongst the excellent brand journalism content on their site right now, you can read about diversity in business ownership, students using Minecraft to build a more peaceful world, and conversations on Black History Month.
Microsoft’s content doesn’t all relate directly to the brand but instead features in-depth reporting with balance. This gives the platform more authority when it does produce articles featuring the organization. All-in-all, it’s an excellent example of how a company can further establish its profile by becoming a media publisher.
Coca-Cola’s corporate site is an excellent example of brand journalism, telling the full and ongoing story of the successful brand via pieces of content that wouldn’t look out of place on a news site.
The Social Shake-Up discussed how the organization had used this technique to target potential customers. It said: “The Coca-Cola Company was an early adopter of online multimedia storytelling as a competitive advantage. In 2012, Coca-Cola transformed its corporate website into the digital magazine Coca-Cola Journey, aiming simultaneously to build brand loyalty and corporate trust.
“As a company news source, Coca-Cola Journey brings to life the stories bubbling just beneath the surface of the business.” In other words, Coca-Cola can use its audiences’ familiarity with traditional media to engage them further and create a sustainable customer base.” With Coca-Cola’s one of the biggest organizations on the planet, there are plenty of opportunities for it to produce its content and use brand journalism as a tool to tell the complete story of the brand.