And both are typically meant to establish authority and stoke demand for a business, among other things. But are they really just two identical drones in the hive? Not quite.
Let’s not get hung up on the ‘journalism’ part. Writing opinion pieces and reports about a business or an industry is not what brand journalism is all about.
After all, content marketing does – and aims for – very similar things. It’s mindset that makes a difference.
Brand journalism involves everyone in the business. It’s not the duty of the marketing folks, or even the PR folks. It’s all levels and ranks taking a piece of the branding pie and carrying that to the audience, their way.
Getting employees involved in the brand message is a science in itself. But, to begin with, any business can do a few things to cultivate an attitude of employee buy-in, and encourage them to contribute.
Develop a distinct organizational culture, and reflect it in every aspect of your business – from hiring, to the day-to-day, to appraising and rewarding. As Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh put it, “your culture is your brand.”
Create a hub for your journalists. Not a physical room (though that’s certainly an idea!) but a branded microsite, perhaps, or even just a social media page. The idea is to give them a place to call their own, one they can build up and take pride in.
Establish rules of engagement (policies, playbooks), and then let your people talk to the crowd. By having them play a role in brand awareness, you also leverage their experiences for refining the brand message.
Don’t leave it completely up to your people. Give them direction – what can and should they write about? Tales from the field? Industry trends? Thought leadership? This will decide what kind of content goes out.
Does citizen journalism? News is news, no matter whether it comes packaged from CNN or raw from a bystander’s iPhone-shot footage on YouTube.
Likewise, content is content. That’s what we should really be paying attention to. Because if we can’t get our content right, then it won’t matter whether we’re using it for ‘marketing’ or ‘journalism’. Neither will pan out.
On the other hand, get it right and the opportunity to use it for the business’s benefit in two similar, yet excitingly different, ways opens up.
What’s your own concept of brand journalism? Do you practice it? Share your stories!
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