It seems that more and more I am reading about “brand journalism” when researching how companies are using their online newsrooms. Some of the pieces published in the last week include “7 Reasons Why You Should Break Into Brand Journalism”, “Insurer launches brand journalism site to speak directly to customers”, and “GMP PR Agency launches new department for brand journalism.” This marketing technique is not just a fad- it is here to stay. With the advent of self-publishing and self-distribution, the public can now directly connect with the brand and hear from the mouth of the person selling the product or service.
The key ingredient in all companies that are using brand journalism successfully is people. Focusing on the people behind the product, the people that are using the product, the people that are helping others with the product and not the product itself is one of the core tenants of brand journalism.
Take Starbucks for example and their annual holiday mugs. They chose to focus marketing efforts on the employee behind the artwork on the mug. This showed how Starbucks values their employees and creates a positive work environment which in turn resonates with their customers and potential customers. Starbucks becomes human and not a giant food and beverage chain. Their use of storytelling helped better spread the message of their products. In the past, this may have been handled by purchasing expensive newswire services or spending hours pitching sometimes unresponsive journalists.
Another great example of brand journalism is Sprint and their website goodworks.sprint.com. On this site Sprint discusses environmental and sustainability topics, such as recycling and re-purposing programs so cellular phones don’t end up in landfills, the Sprint Drive First App to make safe driving a priority, and how they are working to get internet service to 50,000 disadvantaged youth throughout the country with President Obama’s ConnectEd Inniative. Through the use of brand journalism, Sprint is able to create content addressing concerns about the environment, safer roads, and helping those that don’t have access to the technology that they need for a proper education. These are all core initiatives for Sprint and by using the Good Works publishing platform they are able to create compelling and shareable content around their efforts.
An early adopter of brand journalism who is still blazing a trail is GE with GE Reports. They publish content 5 to 6 times a week under the titles “Latest from Innovation, “Latest from Topics, and “Latest from Perspectives.” Today I got to read about the “5 Coolest Things on Earth This Week” and “Employing an Untapped Resource in Saudi Arabia: Women.” Their content is consistently relevant, relatable, and interesting without pushing their brand.
Social media, brand journalism and stories about people can all integrate together to create great content. Great content can ultimately drive sales by helping to establish your brand as a thought leader in your particular industry. Offering insight, research and opinions on issues and trends, and contributing stories and news about more than just your own products and services, ultimately helps provide value for your public relations and communications efforts.
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