Brand journalism is a term making its way around PR departments both in small companies and large corporations. Brand journalism is an offshoot of content marketing, and is exactly what its name suggests – branded material written in a journalistic style.
What branded journalism is not is a press release or a direct-action item. Instead, picture a reporter at a daily newspaper, assigned to write a holiday article about home decor for the holidays. She probably will interview several homeowners, as well as a local company or two, asking about special deals on decorating products and tips for making the process easy. The companies that are interviewed get their name published (without having to spend any advertising dollars), and readers of the article in the process of decorating their homes will hopefully use the ideas mentioned in the article and get out and shop at the local stores.
So how does a company get a reporter to put its name in the newspaper?
This is where PR departments need to develop their own branded marketing offshoot of the content marketing team. With the downsizing of newspapers across the country, many publications are looking for good content to fill space, and if you happen to present an editor with a brand journalism article, there’s a very good chance it will be published.
Here are some tips from the brand journalism editors at Brandpoint:
Associated Press style is a requirement
Don’t use registered trademarks and carefully follow the punctuation and numeral rules. Editors will read the article you’ve submitted, and if they determine they need to make AP-style edits, there’s the potential that they will also edit out your company name or product.
It’s not all about you
Think like a newspaper reporter when you are writing your article. Avoid putting your name in the headline and don’t start the article out with your company name or product right at the top. Instead, keep the branded part of your messaging where it counts most – in the section of the article where you’re providing readers with valuable information they can take, use and apply to their own lives.
Give readers information
Remember, your target audience with a brand journalism article isn’t the people who already visit your store or buy your brand. It’s the readers of the newspaper, who have limited time for reading every published word. The article is a chance to introduce these readers to a product that may help make their life easier and better. So mention this in the branded part of the article, but also give readers additional, helpful information. This will get your article past the editor watchdog, get it printed in the newspaper, and also help keep readers’ eyes on your article because they won’t see it as a commercial.
You can also take branded journalism beyond newspaper articles.
Consider your social media marketing platform. Post your articles on your blog, your LinkedIn network and/or on your website. You can also tweet the articles to your company followers, using messages that don’t mention your company or product.
Brand journalism is soft advertising, but it opens doors to new potential customers, and can certainly advertise your company name without sounding like a commercial. You may be surprised at how customers – and newspapers – respond to this content marketing strategy.