A company's marketing strategy is off to a good start: They have a decent website, a blog and a strong social media presence. Their product and/or service is out there for all the world to see, but could they be doing more? Every company seems to have its own blog and Facebook page these days. Is there a way to stand out above the rest?
While not a new concept, brand journalism (a hybrid of traditional journalism and content marketing) has been growing in popularity over the past few years. This marketing method dates back to the 19th century and the John Deere publication The Furrow. Brand journalism's main goal is to bring more of a company's "personality" to the forefront, allowing them to better relate to their prospects.
According to Maria Perez, director of online community services for ProfNet and PR Newswire,
"Consumers want more from companies than just products and services—they want to know companies care about them, about their goals, their dreams and their lives. When done right, brand journalism allows companies to connect with their consumers more personally than through a traditional ad."
Much like content marketing, there are four pillars of focus when applying brand journalism. These are brand awareness, industry news, create and sponsor and lead generation. The trick of brand journalism is applying these concepts without falling into the trap of product focus (i.e., company-community relations).
A great example of what I’m talking about can be found in IBM’s blogs A Smarter Planet, IBM Research and Citizen IBM.
IBM has brought in a team of experienced journalists to research and write these blogs, which is a common move among many of the companies who've ventured into brand journalism. They have also developed relationships with mainstream publications such as Businessweek, Forbes, The Huffington Post and Wired, which helps attract a larger audience. According to IBM writer Steve Hamm, IBM's A Smarter Planet blog logged over 850,000 unique visitors in 2014.
While most companies don’t have IBM’s resources, the lesson here is a valuable one: IBM is focused on community relations and has ideas about how to make the world a better place. Instead of only using content marketing, IBM is relying on journalism to tell its own story while also engaging in a conversation with its consumers. They are influencing people on new ways to make progress and use technology. A company doesn't have to be "big" to make brand journalism work for them.
With the rise in Baby Boomer retirements, the popularity of trade journals and associations is starting to go down. Younger generations of consumers find these types of publications, while industry specific, dull and uninspiring. Adding brand journalism to the marketing repertoire can help regain their attention.