Content Marketing vs. Brand Journalism

PR and marketing teams are leveraging each other’s strengths to meet new audience demands, giving rise to content marketing and brand journalism as desired skill sets. Both are involved with creating content that audiences find interesting and useful, but does that mean they are one in the same?

Can the terms “content marketing” and “brand journalism” be used interchangeably?

Content marketing

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as:

The practice of creating relevant and compelling content in a consistent fashion to a targeted buyer, focusing on all stages of the buying process, from brand awareness through to brand evangelism.

The buying process is guided by buyer behavior, which progresses in the following four stages:

  • Discover: A customer determines the need to solve a problem
  • Explore: Needs are refined into requirements and potential vendors are contacted
  • Buy: Vendors submit offers and the solution is acquired
  • Engage: Onboarding is completed and the service is provided

Even though content marketing intends to generate leads, the material should not read as an advertisement or sales pitch.

Victoria Harres, vice president of strategic communications at PR Newswire, explains: “Content marketing is about sharing information that has real value to your target audience and educates your potential customers; not about your products, but topics that strongly support what you sell.”

The goal of content marketing is to increase the demand for a product or service through useful information.

Brand journalism

Many companies are hiring freelance journalists or building in-house news operations to create editorial-style content that engages target audiences. These stories are meant to connect on a personal level and create a favorable impression of the brand. Some would argue that brand journalism is biased because it is being told by a company that intends to sell products or services, but Maria Perez, director of online community services for ProfNet and PR Newswire for Journalists disagrees:

“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 consumers more personally than through a traditional ad.”

Perez continues:

“Look at sites like P&G Everyday from Procter & Gamble, Backing America’s Backbone by U.S. Cellular and HSBC News and Insight from HSBC Holdings; they’re tapping into millions of consumers and sharing tips on parenting, personal finance, and business management. The articles are written by professional journalists, and the quality of information rivals that of traditional media sites.”

The goal of brand journalism is to find and tell the stories that convey a brand’s “personality.”

Bottom line

Content marketing and brand journalism are not identical practices, nor are they mutually exclusive. Understanding their similarities and differences can help define specific and measurable business goals.

Join the conversation about content marketing and brand journalism on the upcoming ProfNet #ConnectChat on Tuesday, March 3, from 3 to 4 p.m. EST on Twitter. Our featured guest will be Bonnie Harris, founder and president of Wax Marketing To follow the chat or ask Bonnie a question, just follow the #ConnectChat hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets.